How many passwords do you have? Two? Ten? The same one you've been using since you first opened a MySpace account?
Despite our best efforts ("Passw0rd" isn't one of them), it turns out we've been making 'unbreakable' passwords all wrong. Forget character replacement and unique dates, the key is simple: poetry.
Marjan Ghazvininejad (which sounds like a pretty good password) and Kevin Knight from the University of Southern California's department of computer sciences have come up with a method of creating a memorable password that would take five million years to crack.
"User-generated passwords tend to be memorable, but not secure," explains their paper. "A random, computergenerated 60-bit string is much more secure. However, users cannot memorize random 60-bit strings."
Ghazvininejad and Knight create memorable 60-bit strings by assigning numbers to words - using a whopping 32,7868-word dictionary.
A computer program then creates a very long random number, breaks that long number into shorter numbers that correspond to the codes assigned to the dictionary words. It then translates those words into two short phrases that rhyme, as so:
Or how about...
THE SUPERVISOR NOTIFIED
THE TRANSPORTATION NATIONWIDE
The point of this generator is that it's based on unrelated words, with no links or patterns that a computer could guess at, but that are easy for us humans to remember by virtue of their rhymes.
You can try out Ghazvininejad and Knight's system with this online generator - but it should be emphasised that this web demo isn't secure, and the resulting passwords could be hacked and stolen.
For a more secure version, add your email to this system, which will create a unique poem password that will be subsequently deleted.
Sure they're a bit long - but they're far more secure than 'the name of your first pet plus the year United won the treble'.
[Via: Washington Post]