Password Protection: Scientists Propose Adding 16 Letters to Alphabet

usda

New letters needed

If adopted, alphabet would be 42 letters long

Alarmed at a rash of high-profile data breaches at big U.S. retailers like Home Depot, a task force of scientists and engineers looking at computer safety and privacy have called on lawmakers to add 16 letters to the English alphabet. They’ve also called for the addition of three numbers to the number scale, but that recommendation was not included in the final report as task force members look at how that could be done, since the number scale is universally understood to be based on the 10-digit system and any change would be difficult to administer.

The task force, called the Computer Safety Study Group, was created in 2001 as part of the USA PATRIOT Act. The group has been calling on retailers for years to replace outdated memory-strip card-reader technology with the more secure chip-implant technology widely used in Europe.

In this latest recommendation, additional letters in the English alphabet would “make it that much harder for criminals, even those using sophisticated algorithms, to crack passwords.”

letters-2Scientists say the new letters would increase the number of random-letter codes—that is, codes that don’t spell out recognizable words—since it’s impossible for the new letters to form recognizable words. “A hacker spending a day successfully outsmarting a password now might have to spend a week if the new letters are in place,” says the group. “That’s because any code that relies on just the new letters would, by definition, be random. Plus, any password using a blend of old and new letters would always be partially random while a password that just used old letters would not always be partially random, even if the person creating the password isn’t a good speller.”

https://www.amazon.com/Biki-Wave-Brazilian-Swimsuit-Swimwear/dp/B01G9OM8M8/ref=as_li_ss_il?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B01G9OM8JG&pd_rd_r=WAE34VNBZC33Q9Y54BQ9&pd_rd_w=f3QWh&pd_rd_wg=9oOHc&refRID=WAE34VNBZC33Q9Y54BQ9&th=1&linkCode=li2&tag=daily031-20&linkId=2eb1746d6d241ddedb7d1d556c7295b2To make the new letters as hard to decipher as possible, the group recommends making up entirely new characters rather than using modifications to existing letters, including Latin letters. The group recommends using “squiggly lines, lines that don’t connect, and a combination of straight and curvy lines. Lines with dots would work, too.”

Many other scientific and engineering organizations, including the American Academy of Sciences, agree the addition of new letters would greatly enhance the country’s computer security. But the proposal has detractors as well. “Additional characters will create a global catastrophe of Y2K proportions,” says Ed Newton, a computer science professor at MIT. “Indeed, it would be worse than Y2K, because whereas Y2K turned out to be a false alarm, new characters in computer passwords would be a real disaster, a five-alarm mega-emergency that would bring the global economy to a screeching, painful, agonizing, and catastrophic halt—which isn’t to say you shouldn’t try it.”

The Obama Administration has yet to respond to the report.

This is a work of satire. It is a fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: usda (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.

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