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So long and thanks for all the fish

Passwords.

Friend or foe?

Let’s go with foe.

Exhibit A: 9%vgY2h/Q&7tWx$2jJ

Exhibit B: The username or password you have entered is invalid.

Well.

Which one is it? The username or the password?

After a little reading of training manuals written for the ‘brainiacs’ who actually create these responses, one suggested the ‘user’ “might get frustrated by not being able to remember the email address or username he signed up with”.

Apparently women don’t use devices requiring passwords and secondly the chances of anyone getting frustrated under those circumstances is just so tiny.

Might.

In case we do get a little hot under the collar, they provide alternate response options such as just telling us which one is wrong.

Sadly though, they say, “The second approach (well they spelled it ‘apporach’ which is possibly geek speak for something I’m not smart enough to understand) is clearly more user friendly, but an attacker would be able to work out what a valid username/email is, and then launch an attack on guessing the password.”

And here we are living in an age when corporates rush, not to invest in green energy, but to make robots to take our jobs and give us maximum time on our hands to do what? There will be nothing else to do but hack their passwords?

You’re right, there’ll be robots for that.

We will need ample time, though, because an eight-character alpha and numerical password has 218,340,105,584,896 possible combinations.

Better get started – it’s going to get frustrating.

Hackers today, sans robots but with the help of backdoors, botnets, black hats and the Dark Web, have time to explore the 218,340,105 etcetera options while you and I are flat out nailing work/life balance, or remembering only three passwords.

I do have enough passwords to complete a short novel, but tend to revert back to the usual two or three, or combinations thereof, despite that unnerving feeling that to hack one is to hack all.

You can actually do a lot of reading about how to create a good password.

One website suggests you “want to choose something that is easy to remember”.

Choose a phrase, they suggest, and turn it into letters, numbers, symbols.

That would transform the easy to remember phrase “So long and thanks for all the fish” into “slatfatf” which you can then turn into the almost unhackable password 5L@tf@tf – although I’ve just revealed it to you… whoops.

The list about what not to do is just too long to share here but includes the obvious: don’t use your name in any form, first, middle, last, maiden or spelled backwards, which is a little creepy but in the Dark Web that’s just what the hackers are hoping for.

Stay safe, it’s a cyber field out there.

Yvette Aubusson-Foley

Yvette Aubusson-Foley is a Dubbo journo, who spent time living and raising her family in the USA, but has now returned to her home town.