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Tired of memorizing passwords? A Turing Award winner came up with this algorithmic trick

Katherine Noyes | Sept. 1, 2015
You'll need to practice ahead of time, but the rest is fairly simple.

"Amazon," for instance, becomes "5FHX7E" for a password using this scheme, but you don't have to memorize it -- only the scheme itself.

Blum demonstrated his approach with four audience volunteers, who were able to use it successfully after a few minutes of training.

There are many possible algorithms that could be used -- compass directions are just one example. For sites that require special characters, the user could make it a practice to add a few to the algorithmic results. So he might add "!#$" to the final password each time.

The system would be tough for a hacker to figure out, Blum said.

"As long as you don't give away more than a few passwords, you'll be secure," he said.

The approach clearly requires some upfront work to select and learn your key and algorithm. The point, however, is that you only have to do that once, as opposed to memorizing every password.

For more information, Blum's talk is available online at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website, and a paper describing the approach was published last fall.

 

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