Nuala McCann: I dust off my checkbook and I go retro, it’s safer that way

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WHEN I turn on my new laptop, I feel like I’m climbing my horse in big, awkward silver armor about to joust with the dark knight called you internet security.

Yes I am up to the challenge, yes I have a password manager but sometimes the machine says no.

He tells me I have to go through three different levels of security, he laughs at me because I can’t remember my first best friend’s name – but was it real or imagined? – and it blocks me.

It’s like standing at the door of a very fancy private club and having a pretentious gentleman in a frock coat looking you up and down.

Damn if I take it, but you have to.

“What is your concern? Said my friend. “I keep all my passwords in a little notebook in the drawer. That way, it doesn’t bother.”

Burglar Bill will surely look there first, I tell him. It’s the 21st century equivalent where your grandmother keeps her money in a pillow.

But I can see the temptation.

In my defense, I carefully keep all my important belongings locked up on my iPad.

I don’t write down my passwords – you should never do – but since memory doesn’t serve me very well these days, I go over my old ones and add a number up to 99.

It works most of the time. But the machine keeps harassing me to change the password.

“This password has appeared on millions of leaked lists. Are you sure? he asks.

And the endless calls for new passwords drive me crazy.

Shouting: “I only have one mother, one father, one husband, one son, one date of birth …” has no effect.

So I use my thumbprint.

“When I die,” I say to our boy who rolls his eyes. He knows all the details, including the willow coffin and the cremation.

When I die, I tell him, cut off my thumb.

He raises an eyebrow. He hadn’t planned this.

It makes sense, really. If they increase security to include iris recognition, he’ll have to tear out my eye as well.

My thumb is the key to opening my iPad and Aladdin’s cave of all my worldly possessions, as they are.

My thumb is “Open Sesame” for premium bonds.

I keep hope.

My sister is a born optimist.

“One day Agent Million will call at my door,” she told me with such certainty that I was already buying the champagne.

Personally, I get by with the £ 25 that comes in – a bottle of Prosecco is just as nice.

And I try to take security seriously.

We were politely brought up. So when the lady calls me and tells me I have a problem with my BT internet hub. I stay politely even though I don’t have an internet hub.

“Why did you say ‘Thank you’ before hanging up ‘” our boy said.

“She was trying to rip you off.

“I know, I couldn’t help myself. It’s the nuns’ fault,” I told him.

My heart stopped the moment I put my details in the scam TV license email – at the very last minute I smelled like a rat … but it was so close. How could I do that?

Easily, it seems. I was in a hurry, I had changed my bank card recently, I didn’t think so.

But the truth is, these scams have gotten so sophisticated that none of us are safe.

I read the story of a journalist who was ripped off on the phone by a woman.

He hadn’t had the education of the nuns and had used a few quick and sharp words to dispatch it.

But 10 minutes later his phone rang again and a man was on the other end of the line and started berating him. He was the boss of the con artist.

He shouldn’t have been rude to the woman, the boss said.

“She was trying to rip me off,” he said.

Still, there was no need for his rudeness, said the brazen-necked man on the other end of the line.

The cheek of it. But this is the world we live in.

Today, I’d rather tear my eyes out than click on a delivery guy’s link.

I don’t click anything and when HMRC sends emails I just whisper “Always be my beating heart” and ignore them.

HSBC SMS are the best, why answer them? I do not have an account.

But I’m done laughing at people who keep their pocket money in their cushions.

I’m dusting off my checkbook – remember what it was? I’m going retro. It’s definitely safer that way.


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