Thursday, December 18, 2014

"DAVE" or "Those Pesky Security Questions"



Can somebody please tell my why some Russian school kid can hack into the CIA or Bank of America and the North Koreans can read everyone's emails at SONY, but my 76 year-old neighbor lady cannot get ATT.net to tell her what her own email password is?

My good friend Dottie (whose dog Katija is our dog Benni's bff) decided to finally get an iPod. Partly because we told her how easy it would be just to do email and internet stuff.

Dottie doesn't do much with technology and her old laptop is a bit of a clunker, so she thought it was time to get modern. Leon and I said we'd help her. We assured her it would be a piece of cake to get going. We do Apple stuff all the time.

So we all go off to the Apple Store at the mall and she picks out an iPod, not the top of the line, but a modest iPod with everything she could possibly use and more.

What Leon and I did not take into consideration is that Dottie does not remember her email password because she never had to actually use it once her Windows email client was configured.

Dottie doesn't recall ever having or using a password for email. But she does have a few passwords scribbled in her notebook next to things like Amazon and Ebay.

We tried each of those at the Apple Store with the Apple Tech who helping set up the iPad. No, that's not it. Tried it with an uppercase letter. No, that's not it. Tried a different spelling. No that's not it.

The geek who set up her Windows computer must have either made up a password and never told her or she never wrote it down. He obtained her password and programed it into the Windows email client. She never had to access email directly and so never used her password.

Of course, there are ways to obtain your password if you forget. Just go into Yahoo or ATT.net and follow the prompts.

So over approximately an hour and a half at the Apple Store we did:

Enter your USER ID.

Type in: email address

ATT.net: For security purposes please answer the following questions:

ATT.net: What was the name of your first pet?

Dottie: Well, it could have been Tiger.

Type in: tiger

ATT.net: What was the farthest place you've ever traveled to?

Dottie: Well, I went to Budapest last year.

Me: No, Dottie, it has to be a place you would have answered when you set up your email years ago, not last year.

Dottie: I never answered any questions like this.

Me: Well, You used to live in Germany, so lets try Germany.

Type in: germany

Enter SUBMIT

ATT.net: Sorry, the answers you provided don't match those we have on file.

Start over. USER ID

ATT.net: For security purposes please answer the following questions:
               What was the name of your first pet?

Type in: tiger

Dottie: I think maybe I spelled tiger with a Y.

 Backspace, type in: tyger

ATT.net: What was the farthest place you've ever traveled to?

Me: You lived in Munich, didn't you?

Dottie: Yeah, Munich and Berlin, and some other places.

Type in: munich

SUBMIT

ATT.net: Sorry, the answers you provided don't match those we have on file.

Another attempt:

ATT.net: What was the name of your first pet?

Dottie: Maybe I should use Blacky. He was my first dog, Tyger was a cat. Blacky had been scribbled in Dotties notebook so maybe Blacky is the key.

Type in: blacky.

What is the farthest place you've ever traveled to?

Me: OK, let's stick to Germany.

Type in: germany.

Sorry, the answers you provided do not match those we have on file.
You have made three failed attempts to retrieve your password. 
For security reasons your account will be locked for one hour. Please try again later.

For further assistance you may access ATT Live Chat.

Me: Let's try the live chat.

Enter your USER ID.

ATT.net: Hi, Dorothy,  this is Shamantha. For security purposes can I have the 10 digit account number associated with your email account.

Type in: area code and phone number

Shamantha: Thank you, how can I help you?

We explain Dottie's dilemma.

Shamantha: I think I can help you retrieve your password. I'll just need you to answer a few questions for security purposes.

Dottie: OK

Shamantha: Who is your favorite singer?

Aside: Dottie: I don't know. Me: Didn't say you love Cher. Dottie: Yeah, Cher.

Type in: Cher

Shamantha:I'm sorry that is incorrect.

Dottie: It's been years since I used my password and I don't remember answering any questions like this. I type in what Dottie just said.

Shamantha: I can give you a hint. It begins with D.

Aside: Dottie: I don't even like music or singers. Me: What about Donna Summer? Dottie: Who's that. Leon: Donny Osmond? or Dean Martin? Dottie: None of them.

Figuring Dean Martin is closer to Dottie's generation I type in Dean Martin.

Shamantha: No, I'm sorry that is not the answer we have on file.

Type in: What do we do now?

Shamantha: I can give you a phone number for ATT.net support.

Condensed version of what happened the following evening when we again attempted to help Dottie get her password:

We dial the number Samantha gave us: This is Barbara at ATT.

She asks for a 10 digit account number for security purposes. She asks how can she help. Dottie explains her dilemma. Barbara says ATT no longer handles support for internet, that is now Frontier. She gives us the number. That number is no longer in service. We call back the first number. We finally get a working number and get in touch with Frontier and they transfer us to ATT because they don't have passwords for ATT.net accounts. ATT sends us back to Frontier. Frontier says maybe we should try getting support from Yahoo because Yahoo handles ATT.net email.

We go on Yahoo and type in USER NAME.

Then click on Forgot Password.

Please type in your USER NAME

The security page for ATT.net pops up

For security purposes please answer the following questions:

What was the name of your first pet?

Me: let's try tiger again

Type in: tyger.

What is the farthest place you've ever traveled to?

Me: OK, let's stick to Germany.

Type in: germany.

ATT.net: Sorry, the answers you provided do not match those we have on file.
You can access Live Chat for further assistance

Needless to say, Dottie still has not configured her email account on her new iPod. She really doesn't want a NEW email address as all her contacts have the current one.

Now on an Apple computer there is a thing called Keychain. You can go into Keychain - provided you have the master password - an see all the passwords for all the accounts and websites that you've signed up for. I have no clue how or even if you can do that on a Windows computer. Dottie will get in touch with the geek guy who set up her laptop computer several years ago. Maybe he knows.

His name is Dave.

Last night as I was lying in bed, I had the devious thought that Dave is the key:
I bet he answered all the security questions himself:

What was the name of your first pet?
"DAVE"

What is the farthest place you've ever traveled to?
"DAVE"

Who is your favorite singer?
"DAVE"





5 comments:

Russ Manley said...

This would be laugh-out-loud funny if it weren't so true! And so sad. I've been there too, and now I keep all my passwords and security answers written down and filed away on a piece of paper.

I wish you and Dottie good luck.

Mitchell is Moving said...

This would be hilarious if it weren't so frustrating (and common)!

Bob Slatten said...

I was getting all anxious and pissed off with each and every attempt Dottie made, but when you brought 'Dave' into it, I just started laughing.

truthspew said...

Not sure if this will help but she was probably using Outlook Express on the Windows box. Google how to extract the passwords. It's probably in the system registry.

Frank said...

Actually it is Windows "Live Mail" and I don't do Windows since XP. I'll leave it to Dave.

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