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New Official Revised Security Password Requirements Update (Version 3)

To improve network security following this morning’s “Happy Garlic” computer virus attack, all users are required to change system passwords immediately upon receiving this message.

Also, in keeping with compliance regulations revised in the wake of the recent “Angry Clown” bug, all passwords must be changed again this evening, and once more between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. Friday.

Together, these three new passwords should form a complete sentence, with effective punctuation, proper capitalization, and at least one number divisible by three. Show your work.

In addition, those users affected by the “HepCat” worm are required to change all system passwords first thing tomorrow morning, and again every 24 hours until symptoms have been gone for at least five days. Early discontinuation of password changes may encourage the development of password resistance in viruses. Also: wash your hands.

The cyber security department is working diligently to protect our network from threats. The much-publicized “Terminal Sickness” macro has continued to affect systems nationwide; security experts estimate our overall vulnerability at 2 out of 5. By contrast, the feared “Legendary Impact” virus ranks only 1 in 3. Rounding out the field are “Head Scratcher” (1 in 4), “Call Your Mother” (3 in 7 and a record of 6-2-2) and “Insufferable Party Guest” (the current favorite at 4 to 5 for a $50,000 purse).

To prevent identity theft, it is vital that you not write your password anywhere. With cyber criminals growing more sophisticated every day, users are also advised against committing passwords to memory. A cypher which can be recalled like mere breakfast conversation puts your security at a terrible risk. Instead, think of your password as 8-32 characters of military intelligence that can be decrypted only by the intended recipient at an established time and place. When recording such information for later use, logistics committee guidelines recommend enigmatic hints tattooed on the feet.

Use at least three of the following special characters: &^%$#*( . The colon and period are not part of this list.

Do not use more than one of the following special characters: “!-<~}+\’. The colon and period are part of this list.

Say at least three of the following special characters out loud: *#$?↓@! You will feel better.

If you do not use at least three of the above characters, your password is not strong enough.

If you use more than five of the above characters, that password is too strong. The resulting atmosphere of intimidation is unnecessary and may lead to authentication delays and virtual resentment.

Do not use your mother’s maiden name as password, since we’ll ask for that when you call to reset your password.

Your password should not include your name or the name of anyone you know personally. Instead, borrow a name from the child of a celebrity couple which would otherwise be considered an adverb, preposition, or dessert.

Your password should not include correctly spelled words from the English language or any of the Indo-European language groups. Phrases drawn from language isolates such as Basque or Ainu may be submitted via email for quarterly panel review. Dead or dying languages are strongly preferred. Visit our website for a list of popular and handy phrases for which correct pronunciation has tragically been lost to history.

Do not use a password you’ve used previously on our system or any other banking, security, email, or social networking site in the last twenty-five years. Yes, we will know.

Overall, the code you choose should suggest a positive approach to your work on the system and life in general. Think of your password as a forward-thinking contract with yourself: a concise, measurable life goal, typed out in an unpronounceable dead language.

Do not use a password that can be guessed by anyone who knows your favorite sports franchise, political party, or cooking show. The ideal password suggests a character with a very different backstory from your own. Which opportunities and privileges have you taken for granted in life? How might it have felt to not be so fortunate? Compose a brief narrative, 200-500 words, exploring the physical and emotional world of such a character. The sympathetic insight gained from this meditation will ultimately bring a better world, where the threat of identity theft will be replaced by a culture of compassion and sharing. Until that glorious transformation is complete, avoid pet names.

Security questions:

How does it feel to watch your mother flirt with someone younger than you?

Which member of your family is most likely to forget your birthday?

Tariffs vs. free trade: which leads to greater stability?

Yellow footwear: can it work?

Notice

Website will be unavailable this Friday between 1 and 5 pm EST for security upgrades. System improvements and revised authentication procedures will require a password change. Cyrillic keyboards are now available for purchase.

16 August 2014

Martin Azevedo's work has been published on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and RollingStone.com as well as in numerous print magazines.