9:19:20 milkboneboxershorts@yahoogle.com

A while back I had lunch with a fellow and we got around to exchanging email addys. When he wrote his, I did a double take. He had written something along the line of milkboneboxershorts@yahoogle.com. Then it all made sense.

milk bone dog treats

You see this guy works in IT. Security and privacy are values. When he picked a username for his addy, he was not going for clark1995 or hiram85. Using one's true name, worse with your birth year, compromises privacy, if not invites ID theft. Consider how far an email can go across the Internet.

No, what works best for security and privacy is something offbeat and contrived like milkboneboxershorts.

Two conjoined disparate names is a strategy. Think of 60s rock groups: jeffersonairplane, electricprunes, or ironbutterfly. In this fellow's case, he put together Milk Bone Dog Treats with mundane boxer shorts and came up with a handle guaranteed not to point back at him.

Having said all this about masking one's identity on the Internet, I’ll confess at one time, I thought the ne plus ultra email addy would be use of one's real first name—if it was available. I happened on one such an opportunity. Let’s say it was charles@yahoogle.com.

Guess what? Yes, you’re not only giving up privacy (but then the ego-surfer in us doesn't care, do we?), but you’ve handed out an invite to countless hackers to try and get your email credentials.

To wit, I once chanced to look at the yahoogle.com’s log-in log for my account—the SUCCESSs and FAILs—for a four-week period. What I saw logged was a shocker:

Hwaseong-si, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea
Alicante, Valencia, Spain
Chisinau, Chisinau Municipality, Republic of Moldova
Tralee, Co Kerry, Munster, Ireland
Cucuta, Departamento de Norte de Satander, Colombia
Lewisburg, Tennessee, United States
Doula, Littoral, Cameroon
Beirut, Beyrouth, Lebanon
Vojnuv Mestec, Zdar nad Sazavou District, Kraj Vysocina, Czechia
Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Provincia di Asti, Piedmont, Italy
Saratov, Saratovskaya Oblast, Russia
. . . and hundreds more.

What these places have in common is that attempts to hack into charles@yahoogle.com came out of such internet access points around the globe, even if all failed, my password entropy being out there in the stratosphere of overkill. Computer resources to crack it would be stupefying. But I’d learned a lesson & my new email username is more like milkboneboxershorts.

Trust me, for privacy and security, off-the-wall usernames are the way to go on one's personal email addy.

Image credit: petco.com.


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Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

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