SYNDICATED COLUMN: I’m Not Changing My Passwords Just Cuz Hackers

The 2003 film “House of Sand and Fog” depicts a tragic string of events that follows a woman who loses her house after ignoring eviction notices mistakenly sent to her for nonpayment of county taxes. A recovering drug addict recently abandoned by her husband, she’s overwhelmed by the deluge of bureaucratic housekeeping demanded by contemporary American society.

I think of that beleaguered woman’s character whenever I receive yet another notice from my credit card company that they are changing their terms and conditions, when an airline urges me to join their frequent flyer program, when a client informs me that they never received the email I’m sure I sent out, but now I can’t find in my sent messages. So much crap, so many petty details, why bother to get up in the morning?

Never is this deluge more front and center than during the immediate aftermath of the latest mass hacking, typically, allegedly, by online gangs in the former Soviet Union. During the Cold War, they said they would bury us. Now they are — in security-focused inanity.

In the latest fiasco that has to make one question if we are really better off now than we were in the old days of passbook savings, they’re saying that as many as 76 million households may have had their account information compromised by an incursion into computers at the banking conglomerate JPMorgan Chase. “The intrusion compromised the names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of those households, and can basically affect anyone — customers past and present — who logged onto any of Chase and JPMorgan’s websites or apps,” reports The New York Times. “That might include those who get access to their checking and other bank accounts online or someone who checks their credit card points over the web. Seven million small businesses also were affected.”

Understand this: we are supposed to be very very scared. And we’re supposed to be scared for a reason: they want us to act. They – the banks and corporations – want us to spend an awful lot of time and energy protecting their money.

Bear in mind, when someone steals your credit card data and makes unauthorized purchases or withdrawals, you’re not responsible. In short, it’s not your problem. But the media is colluding with the megabanks in order to make us care about something that we really shouldn’t.

Consider, for example, this advice to us banking customers in the Times article: “Those who want to add a layer of security to their financial life should consider a ‘security freeze,’ one of the strongest tools against theft because it prevents someone from trying to open a new account in a consumer’s name. When you freeze your reports, the big three credit bureaus will not release your credit reports to any company that does not already have a relationship with you. Financial providers and other companies typically request such reports before issuing a new account.”

Considering that this is something that the powers that be want us to do, they’re not making it easy.

The paper continues: “Consumers need to approach each of the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and may need to pay a small fee, depending on where they live. The process can be a hassle because the freeze has to be ‘thawed,’ or lifted, to apply for a new credit card, for instance, or for a mortgage. (And consumers may need to keep PINs and other information handy to do that).”


So let me get this straight. Credit agencies that earn billions of dollars selling our information, much of it erroneous, want to charge us for our own data, so we can protect the big banks that we bailed out in 2009 at taxpayer expense and even now refuse to refinance mortgages or lend to small businesses, a major reason that the economy is still terrible, and waste God knows how many hours online or on the phone dealing with this boring crap.

Well, hear this, Russian hackers and American banksters: I’m a busy person. I have a lot to do. Like most Americans, I work three jobs. If I ever find myself with any spare time, it’s going to be on the beach and is going to involve margaritas and good books.

I am not going to change my passwords every time I read one of these scare stories. I refuse to pick new unique passwords for each of my dozens of accounts. I will not freak out on behalf of people who don’t give a damn about me or anyone I care about. And it will be a cold day in hell before I put a credit freeze on my own account, and pay for the privilege.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of the new critically-acclaimed book “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan.” Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)



5 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: I’m Not Changing My Passwords Just Cuz Hackers

  1. Ted,

    I agree, though personally I would use PGP for all my email if I could get my friends to, just to piss off the NSA. The thought of someone wasting their time trying to read my email amuses me. That said, take advantage of one great thing Apple has done, which is storing your passwords in iCloud, and suggesting good ones. If someone hacks it, fuck it. It should be quite hard to do that, much harder than hacking most things, and it saves a ton of time. Not only does passwords, saves your credit cards too, so you don’t have to bother. Honestly saves me hours.

    • All the talk about passwords, privacy, security, etc. Let’s cut to the end of the dance.

      First, none of the companies care about your privacy. They care about you continuing to use their products and you continuing to make them rich. Your privacy is absolutely irrelevant to them.

      Second, none of these companies CAN guarantee your privacy. The NSA is recording every single thing you do online. A story briefly surfaced a while back about how the NSA intercepted computers ordered by “suspects” opened up the boxes, implanted secret tracking equipment/programs on the computers, resealed the boxes, and had them delivered.

      My computer. My cellphone. My cable converter box. I have NO idea if any or all of them have secret pickup microphones, videocameras or key loggers. Nor does Dell, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

      Third. The tech to build a laser that can pick up vibrations off a window pane and convert those vibrations back into sound has been around since the 1960s. Spy cameras in space can read license plates on cars.

      All the password noise is to make the crowd think that they can still retain a sense of privacy in a digital age.

  2. Nice throw-down of the gauntlet Ted. So now? To make their point, they will do everything they can to destroy your financial comfort-zone and perhaps even your very existence. And who are “THEY?” Well, ANYBODY who will make a buck off of your very publicized financial execution.

    Now, do you really think that HOMELAND SECURITY or the NSA gives a shit? Not when they’re probably part of the profiteering junta.


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