Cybersecurity / Links

Most e-mailed article

This morning’s most e-mailed article in the on-line version of the New York Times is Nicole Perlroth’s “how to devise passwords that drive hackers away”. It is a somewhat apocalyptic piece that assures you you will get hacked and provides some standard advice (“forget the dictionary”) on constructing and managing strong passwords.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/08/technology/personaltech/how-to-devise-passwords-that-drive-hackers-away.html?src=me&ref=general

It leaves out my favorite technique: go global.  Use a truly foreign (foreign to you) name, preferably someone you know so you can remember it.   Consider the names of the delegates to the United Nations:

  • Belarus: Zoya Kolontai
  • Bhutan:  Lhatu Wangchuk
  • Brunei Darussalam: Latif Tuah
  • Burundi: Herménégilde Niyonzima

Notice that we have not left countries beginning with the letter B yet and we’ve already got some winners.  If you knew Mr. Niyonzima—and you yourself were not from Burundi, why not use that character string as the basis for a password?  You won’t forget it because you know the guy (Hermenegilde is a guy) and the chances of a hacking program guessing it once you’ve added a number and a special character are within the acceptable limits of the risk you take with a strong password.   Mix up upper and lower case and you’ve got a real good password  (niYonzima*19 is a strong password for most applications).

But my other point was this: It is noteworthy that the most e-mailed article in today’s Times is on cybersecurity.  It shows one reason why phishing attacks that purport to be about “your account” succeed.   People on-line, think about on-line.  People on-line, e-mail stuff about being on-line.

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