November 09, 2015


An enterprising sixth grader in New York City is selling cryptographically secure passwords for $2 each. No, really. According to Ars Technica, Mira Modi uses a method called Diceware to create passwords. She rolls a six-sided die to get a series of random numbers. Matching the numbers to a list of English words, she forms a unique and nonsensical phrase, like “alger klm curry blond puck horse.”

That phrase is harder to crack – and more secure – than what you’re probably using for your email, Facebook or bank accounts, like combinations of birthdays, anniversaries, kid and pet names (let’s be honest, you’re constantly forgetting and resetting that anyway).

Long passphrases may seem more daunting to memorize, but by using mnemonic techniques like creating a story, we’re actually able to recite them with ease.

Mira’s crypto-business illuminated a bigger issue that’s going on in our password-riddled lives. It’s got little to do with memorization and more to do with length and character restrictions companies force on us. What good is an uncrackable passphrase if you can’t use it because you’re limited to 8 or 16 characters? Particularly when limitations are enforced by back-end systems and applications that can’t handle length, spaces or special characters in passwords.

We’re due for a change to the way we communicate with machines and systems to access our email, photos and bank accounts. Securing data is paramount, but empathizing with the user and creating the best possible experience is just as important – even more so if it improves encryption and everybody wins. At Regis, our Computer and Information Science students sit on both sides of that fence. They mix compassion with technology to help create meaningful solutions to our biggest data challenges. Balking at the status quo and never being afraid to ask, “why not?”

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