Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Contraseña segura

For those of you who don't realize it, I'm currently vacationing in Spain, taking it easy in the little pueblo called Madrid. The other day, I passed one of those newspaper stands with all sorts of magazines and newspapers, and one of them caught my eye--mostly because there was a topless woman on the cover. (Hey, I'm a guy. I notice these things.) There's a topless guy on the cover too, but I didn't notice him at first. They're taking a peek at each others "goods"--but those goods are still hidden from view. (Barely.) The magazine was called "Muy interesante"--Spanish for "Very interesting." Interesting indeed!

Turns out, the magazine isn't a porno magazine--despite the misleading cover photo. I think they're a little bit looser about topless women adorning their magazines than we are in the states. The cover photo was part of an article about "The Great Couple Test--Are We Compatible?" It seems to be mostly a science-kind of magazine, with lots of information about recent scientific discoveries, stories about archeological discoveries, and an article about sunbathing with the scariest pictures of white people with the darkest tans I've ever seen in my life.

I brought the magazine with me to dinner to pass the time and read some Spanish, and one section about "Words" caught my attention. It has a drawing of a laptop with a combination lock on the monitor, and a hand twisting to open it. The article was called "Contraseña segura"--or "password security" in English.

What a bizarre coincidence! Not two hours after I posted about password security, I stumble onto an article about password security in Spanish!

The list of most commonly used passwords is naturally going to be different in Spanish than in English, but the meanings were largely the same. "Hackers circulate a list of no more than 200 words and combinations of letters or numbers that are most common. For example, 1234, contrase
ña, hola or yo qué sé are some of the favorites that people use. Also, love, felicidad or buenos días.

There are two things about that list I find interesting. One, they use the English word for love as a password a lot. And two, the most commonly used words in English (password, hello, happiness) is also used by Spanish speakers (
contraseña, hola, felicidad). Spanish speakers correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand yo qué sé to mean "I know that." Which amuses me--I hadn't heard that as a possible password, but nobody on Atlas Quest ever selected it as a password so I guess the English counterpart doesn't get used much. An exception to every rule!

The article goes on to say that other popular passwords are the "names of pets, kids, birth dates or wedding anniversaries, telephone numbers, and common words like macaroni, sausages, cars." (Turns out, two people are using macaroni as a password on AQ--a word I had never thought to check before. Nobody is using sausage, however, and cars is too short to be a valid password on AQ.)

Then it recommends that passwords should have at least six characters, should not be a word you use regularly or can be found in a dictionary, and should use letters, numbers, and symbols, then goes on to recommend a "trick" by selecting the beginning of a book and converting the first line into initials, numbers, and symbols, using an example of Don Quixote, "En un lugar de la Mancha" which might map to "e1ldl*". In this case, they replaced the word "Mancha" with an asterisk (a common pattern matching symbol in the computer industry). Un, in Spanish, means "a" or "one"--so they replaced the word with the number 1 instead of the letter U.

And the article ends that you should change your passwords occasionally--but don't do it on a Friday because "you probably will forget it by Monday." Hahaha! I love the Spanish. =)

Doing a search for common foreign words as passwords has been coming up empty for me. If you absolutely must use a word for a password, perhaps foreign words are a better choice than English ones?


Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

I'm telling Amanda that you are looking at dirty magazines! ;) But seriously, that article is muy coincidente! :)

Ryan said...

Actually--she encourage me to buy it. She wanted the "free" bag that came with it. ;o)

It wasn't until I picked up the magazine to check out the bag that I realized it wasn't actually a dirty magazine. =)

-- Ryan

Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

It's good to know that you were willing to suffer through what you thought might be a dirty magazine just so Amanda could have the bag! :D Your generosity never ceases to amaze. ;)

Kaaren said...

Actually, 'Yo que se', means "What do I know" or loosely "I don't know."

What's your password? What do I know? Funny stuff.

MO UR4Me said...

Pienso que necesito cambiar mi contraseña.

Anonymous said...

put a feather in his (PM) cap ... and called it MACARONI. Sounds like a logical password to me.