Post by Philip Hole Post by Serena Blanchflower Post by Mike Ruddock
However, I have a laptop which runs (if that is not too flattering a
word) Win 10 and I wish to be able to receive upon it the emails which
are mostly handled by the desktop. When I try to do this I am asked
for the password for the email account. I can't remember it (I have
been using my present email address for a number of years). I asked
British Telecom if they could tell me what it was and they said that
it was something known only to me and my computer. How do I get the
computer to reveal it?
If you try to log onto your email, on the BT Internet website, there
should be an option to click to say you've forgotten your log in
details.Â This should prompt them to reset your password for you. Having
changed your password, you will then have to update both machines to
hold your new password.
Serena's answer is the best you will get.
When you are asked to set up a password, it is buried deep in the [BT]
computer. No one can access it.
When you are asked for the password your response is sent deep in the
computer and the computers response is 'yes' or 'no'.
In a well written and secure system, the password will never be stored
at all. What should be stored is the output from a small program which
converts the password into an undecipherable value, via what's called a
"hash function". Hash functions used for this purpose are sufficiently
complex that it would take a very long time (anywhere from decades up
to the lifetime of the Earth) to try to decode the hash value back
to a password.
Then, when your browser sends a password (and hopefully you are doing this
with https to prevent evesdropping of this critical bit of the chain),
the web server on the [BT] computer will run the same hash function on the
password you give it, and check that the result matches the stored hash.
This is why BT can't tell you what your password is, only give you a
means to change it yourself via some sort of password change link.
How you get your computer to reveal it, Mike, will depend on whether
your browser has ever stored a copy locally, but someone else will need
to expand on how to check that for $BROWSER.
"The Internet, a sort of ersatz counterfeit of real life"
-- Janet Street-Porter, BBC2, 19th March 1996