This Welsh password generator might keep you safe from hackers, but definitely from dragons

Inspired by XKCD's classic diceware strip, a programmer named Alice created an open-source algorithm to randomly generate secure passphrases in Welsh. As difficult as it would be for any human or computer to figure out a nonsense phrase like, "correct horse battery staple," it would be even more difficult to guess, "stwffwl batri ceffyl cywir," especially when there are only about 700,000 Welsh speakers to begin with.

While I'm no cryptologist, I did run a few of the passwords through HowSecureIsMyPassword.net and My1Login.net and they seemed to work out all right. According to those sites, it would take 11 quattuordecillion years or 1 trillion trillion trillion years for a computer to crack "DrefnasidRhyd-y-meirchSefydlogiad6*." Similarly, "GlaeruchdyrauGymreigeiddiaiBarcdir0**" would take 429 tredecillion years, or 94 billion trillion trillion years, respectively.

However, as Alice the programmer warns: "It's probably not a good idea to actually use this, since the wordlist is freely available along with the algorithm being used."

So it might not stop a really clever hacker from getting into your email. But it will almost certainly stop a mythic Welsh dragon from stealing your identity. Probably. I'm assuming their claws are pretty clumsy on the keyboard.

Welsh Password Generator [WheresAlice.info]

Image via Lewis Ogden/Flickr (altered)

*Google Translate tells me this means, "The ford of the horses was arranged." I don't know that I trust it—Google Translate is famously sloppy with the grammar of some Celtic languages—but it certainly sounds epic.

**Similarly, this became "Parkland was a Welsh occupation" which sounds like something you would hear on the Breton version of InfoWars. Read the rest

It's time to stop asking users for periodic password changes

Image: Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ars Technica outlines the case for a policy that might sound counter-intuitive at first: not forcing password rotation. Read the rest

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(Viral Viral Videos) Read the rest

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The discussion of the guesswork and refinement techniques used in extracting passwords is absolutely fascinating and really is a must-read. However, the whole exercise is still a bit inconclusive -- in the end, we know that a badly encrypted password file is vulnerable to an underpowered password-cracking device. But what we need to know is whether a well-encrypted password file will stand up to a good password-cracking system.

The specific type of hybrid attack that cracked that password is known as a combinator attack. It combines each word in a dictionary with every other word in the dictionary. Because these attacks are capable of generating a huge number of guesses—the square of the number of words in the dict—crackers often work with smaller word lists or simply terminate a run in progress once things start slowing down. Other times, they combine words from one big dictionary with words from a smaller one. Steube was able to crack "momof3g8kids" because he had "momof3g" in his 111 million dict and "8kids" in a smaller dict...

Read the rest

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