Stories and thoughts about family and life

Laptop security

on May 27, 2014

A friend of mine re-posted a blog she had read this morning regarding computer troubles and specifically the need for keys on your computer which feel as though they don’t serve a real purpose. I’m providing it here, if you’d like to read it:

I found myself sitting at my desk, literally laughing aloud as I read her story. This reminded me, as I pointed out to my friend, of a story about when I first got my current laptop. Thank you, Cindy, for inspiring today’s story.

In 2010, I started my company. My husband, aka my IT guy, aka the computer guru, aka, IT god, suggests a computer of more than sufficient capacity and speed knowing that I’m also cheap and I’m not fond of replacing equipment. He did a great job, because I love my laptop.

On that cold day in 2010, as he pulled it out of the box, I stared in amazement at this piece of technology. It has a larger than normal (for that time period, anyway) screen and a 10-key built onto the keyboard (which was my only real request, other than “I want it to go FAST.”). He prepares all the software and ensures everything is functional, and then hands it to me to explain the fingerprint reader. He hands me the laptop and explains that I need to choose the finger I want to use, and scan it across the reader so it will read my fingerprint.

“What happens if I program that, and then that finger gets cut off?” I ask.

He stops and looks at me in that way he has, when he’d really like to ignore me but knows better. “You can program another finger, and you’ll still be able to log in other ways. This is just to speed things up, and add some security if you like.”

I think he knew it was probably coming. . .

“But then if that finger is cut off then you have to program another one, and what if that one gets cut off too, or what if you’re whole hand gets cut off?”

Now he’s prepared. “Well, you can switch to the other hand and use the fingers on that hand, I guess, but chances are you’re going to be way more worried about how you lost your hand than letting your computer get hacked. Hopefully the hand you lost wasn’t holding the computer when you lost it.”

I then ask “what happens if someone cuts off your finger and uses it to access your computer, like they do in the spy movies?” He simply shakes his head now. But, hey, it could happen.

Such are the computer conversations with Louis and me. I ask a perfectly logical question, and he stifles his amusement as he attempts to answer it. It’s probably a good thing we’re so different. It helps balance out the chaos a bit. For example, he can’t understand why having a 10-key was so important to me. I can’t understand his fascination with the Windows button on the keyboard. That one’s completely useless to me. He doesn’t understand why I appreciate the “insert” button. He can’t understand my frustration when I can’t print or when the internet goes down. I don’t understand how he can be so calm. He becomes annoyed with my unwillingness to change my password, especially to the crazy string of characters most IT professionals would prefer. He probably wishes I would go back to using the fingerprint scanner.

I abandoned the scanner after a week or two. It was cumbersome and actually since I went a little over the top and scanned in all my fingers (because, after all, who knows when your hand will get cut off?) it seemed a bit confused much of the time. It’s also ultra sensitive. If I got my fingers within an inch or two (which is hard to avoid for someone who is accustomed to resting her wrist on the laptop as she searches), it would think I was trying to re-scan and sign in again.
I ended up just deciding it was better to type in my password. Which, I suppose still requires my fingers. If I lost either of my hands I’d be in deep trouble anyway. Now, which password was it?


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