Security Images Rile Real People

I'm all for security but sometimes security can get in your way. The new Windows Vista operating system, for example, has user account controls (UAC)
(CBS)
which pop up all the time, asking you for permission to do something that you already said you want to do. I know – it helps keep hackers at bay but I can't help but think that some clever hacker will find a way around it. In the mean time it will continue to nag you.

Banks and financial institutions are beefing up their security for good reason but must I really have to identify a picture of a dog (as I do with one of my accounts) or have to answer one of several possible challenge questions each time I log in? Sometime those questions are ambiguous or hard to answer. At the very least they're annoying. I used to rely on a nifty program called RoboType to type in all my passwords but, as smart as the program is, it can't anticipate what question my bank might ask me.

(CBS)
What really gets me riled up though are those websites that type in a string of letters or numbers to prove you're a human being. Websites do this to avoid spambots – automated systems– from signing up for an account or taking certain actions. They show you a graphical representation of letters and numbers that you're supposed to type in. But they work so hard to make these characters unrecognizable to machines that they're often also indecipherable to people.

It took me several tries to sign up for SpinVox, a nifty service that helps you organize your voice mail. Maybe my eyes are getting weak or my brain is having a hard time handling ambiguity but because they drew lines through the characters, I had hard time distinguishing between E and Fs, 7s and 2s and of course the letter O and a zero.

I'm no security expert, but there has to be a way to lock out intruders without making life too difficult for the rest of us.

  • Larry Magid

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