Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Secret Societies And Secure Passwords

     I was reading an article today about the prevalence of "insecure" -- as in "easily guessable" -- passwords.  The author stated, presumably on some authority, that the most common password is "123456," which for the first time has taken top position from the previously most popular password, which is "password."

     It reminded me of Richard Feynman's amused discovery that one of the more strident security chiefs at Los Alamos (in the Manhattan Project days) had never set the combination to his own office safe -- it still had the manufacturer's default setting that it came with.  Other guardians of our nation's security had very guessable combinations like 314159 (pi) and 271828 (e).  A kind of major incompetence on the part of the security boys, no?

     Of course, it could be further remarked that Feynman himself was a close acquaintance of the atomic spy Klaus Fuchs, and either didn't know or didn't care.  A kind of major incompetence on the part of the self-superior critic of the security boys, yes?

     Perhaps it is just as well that lots of people have hokey passwords.  It is a sign that they don't much believe in the "security features" of our internet culture -- either they think that they are unnecessary, or that they are ineffective.  One way or another, I think that they are right; it strikes me that they are being much more realistic and street-savvy than either the politicians-bureaucrats who put their full faith and credit in the integrity of the U.S.-government-intelligence-complex, or the media-journalist-bloggers who have faith in corporate-financial-media giants, or the STEM-eggheads who believe in the latest foolproof encryption systems.  (I remember reading some CIA book which claimed that there was a time in the 20th century when you could have financed a successful coup in Paraguay for $25,000.  By the same token, I'll bet there isn't an encryption system on the market today that can't be, and hasn't been, back-doored with either a well-placed deposit of less than $100,000 -- or a threat of knee-capping if the offer were to be refused.)

     After all, the existence of an article about easily-guessable passwords, which resulted from some canvass of "secure passwords," is kind of prima facie evidence that secure passwords aren't secure -- isn't it?  (Or maybe it is just disinformation, pure and simple.)

     Now for an abrupt change of subject:

     Well, what about secret societies -- do you believe that powerful secret societies exist?

    Well, if powerful secret societies exist, neither you nor I will know that, now will we?  Not the truly secret ones, anyway.  Anymore than we would know what are the most popular truly secure passwords.

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