Posts tagged ‘computer_security’

2 birds with 1 stone: Password strength and remembering the Word

Anyone who uses computers, whether for personal or professional reasons has dealt with passwords. Whether it is to access your email or unlock your account on the office PC, you have had to deal with at least a few passwords.

Since I work in IT and have to deal with many different computer accounts, I have to remember more than a fair share of passwords. And since these office accounts have elevated privileges, these passwords need to be secure in the sense that they shouldn’t be easy to guess. As a means of ensuring secure passwords, IT security policies or rules mandate that passwords contain a combination of numbers, alphabets, and special symbols and be of adequate length. Such rules ensure “password strength” and prevent hackers from using brute force “dictionary” attacks in which hacking programs repeatedly try using a combination of known names and phrases in the hopes that users would have used such “insecure” passwords. (You will be amazed by the number of passwords which are simply just the words “secure” and “password”!!!)

The flip side of enforcing password strength is that since the passwords created to abide by strict policies are difficult to remember, many users literally write them down on post-it notes stuck on their screens, thus defeating the whole purpose of using such strong passwords in the first place!

However….. On an entirely unrelated topic, we have very clear instructions from God about how to handle His Word the very first time He wanted this Word to be written down. In Deuteronomy 5:1 Moses summoned all Israel and said: “Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them”.

Later on in the very next chapter, God, speaking via Moses had very specific instructions about how to learn his Law and even gave us tips on how to remember them easily. In Deuteronomy 6:6 -8, He said “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates….” In other words, God wants us to incorporate His Word into our daily activities so that it will remain with us. After all, the Word is your only spiritual weapon that we need to wield as His soldiers!

Did I say “unrelated topic” just a few sentences ago? This is how I related both these requirements: Why not take an inspiring or encouraging verse that I want to remember and transform it into a password? This way, every time I use the password, my memory of the Word is refreshed. As well, I find it is easier to remember the plethora of passwords because it is based on His Word which is (and should be!) always close to me.

Let me explain this with an example. (Before the Security people crack down on me, this is just an example of a password that I have never used or plan to use!). Consider the verse “Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart”. Use the first letters from each word, and arrange them thus: “Pr3:5T1tLwayh”. I now have a combination of numbers, upper and lower case alphabets and even a special symbol (“:”). Notice that I converted the lower case “i” into a “1” after the “T”. This is a favorite approach to further obfuscating passwords by converting letters to numbers. For example, the letter “e” converts to “3” and the letter “o” converts to “0”. Even if you want to use a phrase in a password, you can trip up simple hacking programs by replacing letters with numbers.

My point is this: You can always find innovative ways of keeping God’s Word close to you while dealing with everyday mundane tasks. Whether it is listening to Christian music while exercising or driving to work, or in this particular case, using a :”worldly” requirement to strengthen your remembrance of a verse, we have ample opportunity to come closer to Him everyday. If you know of or use any such methods, let me know!

Many Blessings,
John Kanagaraj

PS: No birds were harmed while creating the subject line of this blog 🙂

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January 31, 2009 at 1:53 pm 3 comments


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