09 January 2011

Art and science of effective passwords

In our digital life style, most often our privacy and secrecy are protected with username and password (including PIN as in the case of card-based transactions).

On an average over ten different passwords have to memorized for purposes such as internet account, office and personal emails, online social media platforms, financial and utility accounts transactions online, membership logins, etc.

Life was easy until we considered that having a password was enough once and for all. Unfortunately this scene has changes. We are at the risk of financial or reputation loss and might also suffer losing our own identity if our private details are exposed to the wrong people.

Often we use simple password that include abbreviations of our name or initials along with details from our date of birth – a mere 5 to 6 characters long. Many times people find using the default password or ‘password’ as the password itself more convenient. Imagine how simple and how dangerous if this case applies to your online banking website of email account.

Now often we come across so many “Don’t Do” about secure password. Never user names or usernames or ‘123’ or ‘test’ or petname or child’s name being some of these. Seldom there is help in the form of how to coin safe passwords and manage them efficiently. Here is some useful information in this direction.
  • Make sure whatever you do, that you can remember the password without having to write it down. The best password is simple yet difficult to crack.

  • The length and range and the case of characters in your password determine how difficult it is to guess. So use symbols, numbers, a mix of upper and lower case letters. For example letter ‘a’ can be replaced with ‘@’, ‘s’ can be replaces with ‘$’ etc.

  • One method of coining a good password is to use a sentence that one can easily remember. For example “My Favourite Movie Is Casablanca” or “The Best Place I have Seen So far Is Bali”. Take the 1st letter of each word, insert your symbol say ‘#’ between each 3 letter and use your number say ‘3’ after every 5th letter. A password like ‘Tbp#ih3$#$fi#5B’ is almost impossible to guess.

  • Another easy technique could be to use two totally un-related words and connect both those words with symbols and numbers while mixing up lower and uppercase letters. Again passwords like ‘ nOvember!=dEcem ber’ or ‘funny<$nail>Flower’ are also very good passwords.

  • Use of words from foreign language can be very handy to make good password using English characters. This brings a new range of complexity into your password as the sentence delivered in your native language can’t be guess that easily. Example ‘Guruk@Aashirva@d’ is simple based on a Hindi phrase with symbols missed for the 1st and last occurrence of the letter ‘a’.

  • Whatever password you may create can be useless if you do not change is over a period of time. Good level of security suggests change after every 30 or 45 days. Systems can be automated to ‘expire a password’ after this number of days.

  • Re-use of old password must also be limited. It is safe to keep this limit as 10/12 minimum, for the list of passwords before they can be reused again.

  • Length of the password must certainly be longer than 8 characters but about 14 characters or more is recommended for sensitive applications.

As conclusion we can say that no password un-crackable and what we are trying our best is only to make it more difficult to crack in terms of effort and time. Simple and obvious errors like post-it notes with passwords stuck under keyboards must be avoided.

Sharing the password with someone is same as broadcasting your password publicly; this is no longer a secret. The worst password is the one you forgot while the best password is simple yet cannot be guessed easily.

Brave new world with technology

In line with the radical changes, as presented by Aldous Huxley in his novel ‘Brave New World’, in fact surpassing those p jections is where technology has brought in a change in society. An ordinary citizen has access to information like never before, which make him enjoy his comforts better.

Tools of technology like the Internet and the Mobile have given him the power of choice, a true choice in the matter how he wishes to be served with pertinent information. A couple of days of technology-weaning call best explain to us the extent to which we rely on them.

With the innovations in technology leading to price reduction with increased new features it is now possible for a common man to afford access to technology and gadgets. Now comes managing the overflow of information out there and gaining the skill to filter that is relevant to one’s purpose of lifestyle. The culture of the brave new world is one that of strive for success and happiness.

And then one day it dawns to us: "All of a sudden, we've lost a lot of control," he said. "We can't turn off our internet; we can't turn off our smartphones; we can't turn off our computers" as told by the pioneer Steve Wozniak.

Digital Oman suggests here a few means of accessing information from the digital world on a periodic basis in a controlled manner and to manage their flow to digest it. As per the brave new world theory, harnessing technology through a means that best suits one is fostering a powerful and complete reliance of access to pertinent information.

Book marks

The most common means is to use the ‘Favorites feature’ just like book marks in a common web browser. We come across several interesting articles of interest when we try to search for something else. The best means at hand is to save the weblink as favourite and revisit regularly at the end of the day.

Google reader

An alternative tool is to use a free tool called Google reader. You can find this tool under ‘More’ options in Google window. Then one can click on ‘Add a subscription’. For example enter ‘technology’ to find feed in that discipline; then choose your feed subscriptions. Now daily alerts in the field of technology will be waiting in your Google reader for you to read at your leisure.
Yet another interesting feature of this tool is that if your friends on Google email also have a similar reader setup that is public, then you can read their favourite reads also marked from their reader lists.

News Feeds

RSS standing for Really Simple Syndication is another manner in which news as well as website updates are pushed into our subscriptions. Also called as ‘News Feeds’ enable you to get the latest headlines and video in one place, as soon as its published, without having to visit the websites you have taken the feed from. Most email clients have a feature to import such regular feeds into the separate ‘InBox’.


The micro-blogging platform twitter is rich with media and corporate presence so that once you follow these ‘Usenames’, to receive small snippets of news and links appear in your timeline in under 140 characters. If this lead interests you then you can click on the link to read further.
While the above list is not exhaustive, it certainly is a good way to organise information that is found in plenty online and organise it in such a manner that you can access it anytime you are free to process the contents of the information.
Would like to hear more from you as to how you manage your digital brave new world. Do comment.