Ruminations on Architecture & Security

April 9, 2008

Single Account without OpenID or Carspace!

Filed under: Access Control,Identity — Bavo De Ridder @ 12:48 pm

In the country I live, Belgium, the various utility providers have discovered the Internet as a place to interact with their customers. Over the last two years I received letters from all of my utility providers (electricity, gas, internet, telecommunication …) that I now can manage my account on their website.

Great! 24/7 I can login to their site and check my current balance, buy more features or do whatever that needs to be done.

Today however, I am running away from them. Each and every one of those sites requires me to register, including creating a new account with user name and password. Not to mention how difficult it often was to correlate my existing products with that new online account.

Almost every time I have to login to those sites, I forgot the user name or password I picked at registration. I do try to keep a single user name for that kind of accounts but that is not always possible due to conflicting rules or my default user name already taken.

Today I realized that I am not even bothering anymore to remember the user names or passwords. Somehow I found a way to use my Google Account on all of them. Instead of supplying my user name and password to that site, I use the following procedure:

  1. Surf to the site
  2. Immediately pick the “Forgot user name or password” link, I don’t even bother trying to log in
  3. Enter my Google email address somewhere (all those sites offer to mail you your existing or new credentials, either based on email address or based on user name)
  4. Wait for the mail to arrive in Google
  5. Open it, click on the link inside
  6. Create a one time password and log in with it
  7. Use the site

The only account I have to remember is my Google Account. Now I just wait for someone to write a Firefox add on that automates most of the above.

So if the following companies would be so kind to read up on OpenID so I don’t have to act like a fool with the above procedure: Electrabel, Telenet, Belgacom, Nuon, Proximus, Luminus … and probably others I forgot.


  1. I’m using the same approach as you do, except I keep the password reset mails in my mail account if they contain my username; for those, I typically need max. 3 attempts to get logged in.

    Ironically, I had to click on ‘Forgot my password’ on this website in order to be able to comment on your post. Maybe you should push to install the WordPress OpenID plugin as well ;-) Blogger/BlogSpot provide this, it’s a shame WordPress doesn’t.

    Comment by Remko Tronçon — April 9, 2008 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

  2. That is indeed funny … seems to be an OpenID provider (you can use your WordPress blog URL as OpenID) but they are not an OpenID consumer. Why … ? I hope I am missing something, but I will search further …

    Comment by Bavo De Ridder — April 9, 2008 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  3. Hehe lol, I got to this place through your facebook account, must say I have the same experience with all the above and I actually also re-register every time, except for some; where I just look up the email they sent me once in my Gmail.

    And indeed: I had to think for a moment “Do I actually have a wordpress login?” before I could comment.

    My real blog is

    Cool blog, lots of interesting info.


    Comment by henrimenheere — September 8, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  4. Here’s an idea.. don’t be quite so forgetful. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I really never understood what the problem with remember passwords is. You remember your phone number, it’s random. People remember their Social security numbers. The reason is just because they use them often and make an effort (at first) to remember them. Something like your gas utility.. you will use every month I guess for years. Just remember it.

    Also, if you use a more complicated default user name, it won’t be taken. Since that will then be able to be the same at every site, hopefully you will remember it.

    Comment by shiruba2009 — May 17, 2009 @ 2:39 am | Reply

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