On The Futility Of Passwords

One of the characteristics of a certain sort of person is the desire to have an in-speak by which one can speak to others and provide knowledge while simultaneously preserving that argot from common knowledge. There has, for at least several decades (and in some cases far longer), been a desire among a certain segment of our population to coordinate with each other their shared nefarious goals and ideals and plans while denying that same clarity to others who are assumed to be against the success of such plans. In my own personal experience I have dealt with plotters in certain institutions who sought to speak to each other in a coded language that conveyed their thinking while seeming innocuous to those who were on the outside and not privy to the schemes and plans of the people involved. This language presents a passcode that seeks to preserve the privacy and secrecy of what is being planned while simultaneously communicating it to others who happen to be in the know.

Part of the problem with this form of communication is that people in general do not like being on the outside when it is clear and obvious that some sort of scheming is afoot. When we know that others are engaged in plotting of one kind or another and are generally up to no good, then all of their discourse becomes subject to scrutiny and unfriendly efforts at interpretation to gather what sort of information is being conveyed by those words. When those words are decoded, as they often are, the people who are engaged in scheming and plotting do not suddenly cease their efforts and engage in open and honest communication–for the truth is not in such people, as they are the children of the father of lies himself–but they rather seek to change the language that they use to preserve the sense of secrecy that they feel is of the utmost importance in the success of their plans and machinations. This leads to a proliferation of words and expressions being invented to convey some sort of secret information to those who have been initiated into such unholy cabals of evildoers who seek to preserve the secrecy of their insider knowledge, but who simultaneously cannot help themselves but seek to communicate this knowledge to others, which allows those who are not in the secret to become familiar with what is being said, thus proving to be a self-defeating effort. Any truth that can be communicated to one’s confederates can be understood by those who are sufficiently perceptive on the outside, and then explained to others, thus losing its value as a passcode.

We may extend this reasoning beyond the present case, and see it as a demonstration of the futility of seeking to secure the privacy of information through the use of passcodes in general. Whatever is kept private and secret, or that we desire to not be general information, has to be protected in some fashion. Simultaneously, whatever we would wish to keep private, others will wish to know, often for nefarious purposes like stealing our identity or having improper access to services and information that they would not otherwise and should not know. Yet most of the time this information is protected by passwords. Even when we have to change passwords on a frequent basis, they have to be simple enough that we can remember them. When these systems of passwords fail, the result of people is to add more layers of complexity to the passcode system, adding two-factor authentication that seeks to send more passcodes to one’s cell phone or e-mail address. And ultimately all of these methods are futile, try as we might to seek to preserve the security of information by a fixed or a series of fixed pieces of information that others will wish to get access to in some way.

How, then, do we obtain some measure of security? We ought not to think that perfect security is in the reach of people for whom life is always at least somewhat of a risk. That said, there are ways that we can be better at preserving privacy to the extent that we seek not to preserve security with texts that can be logged or hacked but rather through using the things about us that do not change at all. To the greatest extent possible, we should be the password for that which we want to protect. In a world where people are constantly trying to pretend to be something other than what they are, who we are, and those qualities in us that distinguish us from other people, is the best way of ensuring that it is we ourselves who are wanting to do something. If we are vulnerable to losing our privacy because cameras are everywhere and our DNA or cell phone tracking location can be followed by others, then why not turn that around and make sure that it is by those qualities that distinguish us from others that we are given access to that which we should access and which no one else should? Why should that be such a hard thing to do? If our distinctive qualities can bring us trouble in this world, they should at least bring us some measure of security in being harder for others to mimic.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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