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Jim's comment on passwords brought to mind a couple of items. One of which was my first success at breaking into the master password at the company for which I work.

The company hired consultants from Deloitte and Touche. The consultants set up a security system, passwords and all. Minions such as I were allowed limited access to various modules under our own password.

One day, after I had been patted on the head (metaphorically speaking) and told that they were the computer experts and I was just an employee from another section (not IT) -- run along little girl and leave it to the big boys -- I dug in my heels and challenged the experts.

I told them, actually I bet them an expensive lunch in one of the most exclusive restaurants in town, that I could guess the master password in three attempts or less.

Hohoho, quoth they. You're on. Go ahead and try.

I got it in two. The first word I tried was the name of the person in charge. No good. The second try was the street address of the company. Bingo! So much for experts....

I was taken down a notch or three about my own personal password, though. In Hebrew, my first name means "princess" or "great lady" and the first of them was what I used for my password (this was a decade before "princess" was something desired by every little girl and her mom).

Easy to break. So I though I'd be clever and start substituting numbers for some of the letters (S often scanned as 5 in the old OCR programs and I as 1). Every Tom, Dick, and Harry (or Sally, Jane, and Jerry) knows that old trick. Not so smart, after all.

Now I use the first letters of a sentence that I won't forget--can't forget--actually the line of a favorite song. To the password breaker, however, it's just a string of random letters with a couple of numbers and another couple of special characters thrown in for good measure.

No such thing as a password that can't be broken, but if it's difficult enough, maybe they will go on to the next person who's using 123456 or princess or passw0rd or something else really obvious and leave mine alone.

Welcome to the 21st century.

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