Poetry and Passwords

Collection of PoetryWe were enjoying a leisurely lunch with some retired friends when the conversation turned to the indignities of aging.  The older folks around the table complained about how hard it was now to remember the things that they had in their younger days retrieved effortlessly.  One proudly spoke of the many poems he had memorized as a boy.  Another had committed significant portions of the Bible to memory.  Half joking, I said that the only things I memorized nowadays were … passwords.

What a sad commentary on modern life!

There was a time when I took great delight in finding whimsical passwords as the spirit moved.  However, that casual approach often won’t fly any longer. When every password has to have a particular combination of upper and lower case letters, plus at least one number and one character (and you aren’t allowed to repeat passwords too frequently), the hunt for an acceptable password becomes even more challenging.  Now, it requires careful planning. (Having a slightly twisted mind doesn’t hurt either.)

Even if you’re tempted to ignore the recent security breaches, chances are that your employer is insisting that you use more discipline and care in choosing passwords.  For that matter, your online bank, your email service, your preferred shopping websites and your favorite social media platforms probably require stronger passwords too.

If you’d rather memorize poetry than passwords, consider turning to Leet to help you devise passwords that pass muster.  Jesse Friedman’s recent post, Leet Speaking Passwords, helps explain how to use this technique.  By swapping some of the letters in your password for similar numbers and characters, you can create a unique and memorable password that is strong enough to make a hacker cry. For example, using leet the name “Jesse” becomes “J3$$3.”

So if you’d rather spend your precious grey matter on poetry instead of passwords, consider adopting Friedman’s leet speaking approach.  I can promise you that the poetry you read will bring far more joy than any list of passwords.

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For additional advice on passwords, see my earlier post Safe Passwords.

[Photo Credit: Vintage Cat]

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Poetry and Passwords

  • August 5, 2011 at 4:44 pm
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    While they do pass such musters, leetspeak passwords are still susceptible to dictionary attacks, as the letter substitutions are still pretty regularized.  They do make a dictionary attack a bit more complicated, but by no means impossible.

  • August 6, 2011 at 6:22 am
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  • August 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm
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    That’s a fair point. Leetspeak is just one step a person can take to improve the strength of a password, but it isn’t a complete solution. Creating an obscure passphrase and then applying leetspeak would probably be better.

    – Mary

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