Why we love password policies

User who has just returned from vacation can't remember his password, says the pilot fish he turns to for help.

"No problem, I told him. What would you like to use for a new password? He said, 'B O S O X'," fish reports.

That's OK as a starting point, but fish reminds user of the company's password policy: It has to be seven characters long, have an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter and a number or symbol.

"B O S O X 13 with an apostrophe at the end," user says.

Fish resets the password and asks user to try it. "Nope, still can't get in," user says.

Fish makes sure the domain controllers are replicated and asked user to try again. Still no luck.

Fish resets the password once more, this time reading each character back to the user as he does: B like boy, O as in overtime, S as in sorry, O as in overtime again, X as in x-ray, 13, apostrophe. User confirms that's what he's typing. But it still doesn't work.

Several more resets later, fish suggests maybe user's Caps Lock is on or Num Lock is off. No success -- though when fish tests it on a PC sitting on his workbench, it works immediately.

"I walked to his work station with a new keyboard and asked him to log in with me watching him type the password," says fish.

"He typed B-O-S-O-X-1-3-!

"Wait, I thought you said apostrophe, not exclamation point, I said.

"'Oh,' he said, 'I thought that was called apostrophe'..."

Sharky does want to know your password -- just your story. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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