After that, everybody got just 'passw0rd'?

It's a few decades back, and at the company where this pilot fish works, new passwords are regularly chosen for users by the security system.

"It was automatic and reasonably confidential," fish says. "The software periodically selected a random word from a dictionary file, then informed the user of his new password via our homegrown email system.

"One particular user was a woman fairly high up in the organization, who had certain...let's call them character flaws. I don't recall the exact password assigned to her, but it was a perfectly good adjective -- as a matter of fact, perfectly fitting this user, in the most uncomplimentary of ways.

"She complained to the Director of Data Processing -- "Information Technology" hadn't yet been invented -- that this adjective was chosen deliberately. She wanted the responsible party fired.

"She didn't seem to realize she was implicitly admitting to this character flaw by her very complaint.

"However, the DP director herself had set up and controlled this password mechanism, so she knew it was really the luck of the draw -- and she didn't fire anybody.

"But we decided not to press our luck further, so we changed how we did passwords."

Sharky's password is TrueTalesOfITLife. Send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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