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May 2023 - World Password Day

Updated: May 30, 2023

May is the month with the most holidays this year, including May Day on the 1st of May, the Coronation of King Charles III on the 8th of May (two days after the Coronation ceremony), and the Spring bank holiday on the 29th of May. In addition to these holidays, a few other events are taking place, such as Cinco de Mayo (which translates to "the 5th of May" in Spanish) and the 67th Eurovision Song Contest, starting on the 9th of May in Liverpool, with a focus on Ukraine. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, it is still unsafe for Ukraine - the winner of Eurovision 2022 - to host this much-anticipated contest.


Talking about Eurovision, did you know that lyrics from your favourite songs can be used to create secure passwords? It's a fun way to make strong passwords that are hard to guess, unlike "May", the most popular month of the year to be used in compromised passwords. This brings us to this month's topic: World Password Day, which takes place on the 4th of May.


Despite the ever-increasing number of websites and services that require passwords, many of us are still guilty of overlooking their importance. Unfortunately, becoming lackadaisical and using a password like - ahem - "password" leads to stolen accounts and compromised personal information. Intel created World Password Day in 2013 to raise awareness about the crucial role of strengthening passwords in securing our digital lives. It's a day to share helpful tips and tricks to strengthen passwords and protect ourselves from cyber threats.


From 'Trust Me' to 'Password Please': A Short Look Back at the Evolution of the Password

In the earlier days of computing, trust was the foundation of security measures. As access was only provided to authorised personnel, passwords were not mandatory. It was only with the advancements in technology that the necessity for passwords became evident. In 1961, Fernando Corbató devised the concept of passwords, which required users to enter a secret word or phrase to gain access. However, the early versions of passwords were not as secure as the current ones, as they were relatively easy to guess or were written down nearby, so they barely did their job of only letting the intended person log in.


Modern devices have made generating and storing passwords easier, but risks are still involved. If an unauthorized person gains access to the system, they will have access to all saved passwords in one place. While some security professionals recommend using a password manager, it's essential to be cautious about third-party tools that offer to store passwords. If the password manager is compromised, the same consequences could result.



It's interesting to note that if your birthday falls in May, there's a high chance that 152,218 other people will share your online password. However, even a seemingly secure password like "mAy435@" might not be as safe as you think. AI technology can easily crack it by referencing a list of passwords obtained during the well-known RockYou data breach of 2009, one of the most significant password leaks ever recorded, with a staggering 8.4 million compromised passwords.

Chat that showcases how long it might take for a password to be cracked by AI


Use two-factor authentication (2FA) when possible for added security. 2FA requires two types of verification, like a password and a smartphone, making it difficult for hackers to access accounts. This reduces the risk of cyber attacks such as phishing and social engineering targeting accounts with just a password.


So how can you create a password that is both easy to remember and hard to guess? There are two methods which you can try:


Method 1

  1. Select a pair of words that are not inherently related but can be memorized easily, such as "Learn" and "Memories". You may choose more words to add if you want but try to avoid making references to anything that can be traced back to you, such as the name of your pets or a photo of a holiday location you have shared previously online.

  2. Now change one or more of the letters in the words to upper-case letters, numbers or symbols (e.g "Le@Rn" and "Mem[]rie$")

  3. Join the two altered words together in any way you like. It would be best if you ended up with a complex password like this: Le@Rn_*_Mem[]rie$


 

Method 2

  1. Select a lyric from a song. For fun, let us say we use the English chorus of "Diva" - This catchy song was sung in Hebrew by Dana International, the transgender singer for Israel for Eurovision in 1998 who went on to win the contest. Click here to see the lyrics.

  2. Take the first letter of each word. This will form: VMVVAVLDVVC

  3. Change one (or more) letter to a number or symbol, or add it to the end like this: ^MvV@V7dv^C.

 

Discussion points for Safeguarding

  • Is a longer password actually secure?

  • Can password managers be trusted?

  • Is a memorable password important?

  • Can you add 2FA to any existing accounts?


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