Even though I haven’t played WoW in ages, I still have my authenticator on my key ring. My office key ring, to be exact. That might be weird, carrying it around at work, but it had something to do with load balancing. I hate large key rings, so I have several small ones. At the time I picked up my authenticator, I had recently gotten my office keys, and that key ring was still mostly empty. That’s also the reason I never removed the authenticator, even after I stopped playing: it gave the keys some extra weight and volume that made me feel less likely to forget or lose them (it has worked so far!). Naturally, after all these years, it’s become a bit worn:
Note the nice electronic office key that says “I’m a computer scientist, I use doors that need almost a second of thinking time before you may turn the key after putting it into the lock!”. One second doesn’t sound like much, but try it… nobody waits that long before turning a key unless they have to. It’s surprisingly disruptive. Oh, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all and you need to pull it out, wait 5 seconds, then try again. There’s also a MacGuyveresque mini ballpoint pen in a tube on the key ring. Because you never have a pen when you need it (naturally, now that I do, I never have paper to write on). Also there’s a bottle opener. Nice during the day for the few soft drinks that come with crown caps and even better during the night for beer. We tend to work long enough in summer that we sometimes end the evening with a beer or two at work, on our terrace. Actually, sometimes we have one even before we’re done… Hey, it’s Germany! Besides, the opener was a promotional gift by Opera (the web browser developer). They got cheated by their supplier though, I think. Their logo and slogan (“opening the web”) wore off within weeks.
But back to the authenticator. It still works and the front doesn’t look too bad, either. However, the back makes me worry a bit more:
Removing a broken authenticator from your battle.net account seems to be an obscure work of black magic. At least processes how to do it seem to change over time. At some point, I’m pretty sure that code on the back side, which you needed when you registered the key fob, was also required to remove it again, or at least saved you a lot of hassle (there still must’ve been ways to deal with lost or broken authenticators). These days, it doesn’t seem to be strictly required any more, but if your authenticator breaks, it’s still a lengthy and annoying process to get rid of it on your account. Seeing how I haven’t logged into a Blizzard game in months, I don’t see much reason to keep it secured with this authenticator. In fact, at the moment, the risk of getting hacked worries me less than the risk of locking myself out of an account I might want to use again at some point in the future.
Speaking of authenticators, do they even still sell the key fobs? I couldn’t find them in the battle.net store. Is it all smartphone apps these days? I’m a bit paranoid about the Android one, not the least because I imagine it can spectacularly break (like other such apps) if for some reason you lose the random seed or need to reinstall. I also heard it goes all crazy and judgmental on you if you use it on a rooted phone. Most importantly, it feels a lot less secure than a stand-alone key fob. Finally: can the app manage more than one battle.net account at a time? I have two accounts, one for each side of the ocean, with different games bound to them. If I get around to them again, I’d prefer to have an authenticator that can manage both accounts.