1994-07-06 - Passwords/Safes/PINs funny story

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From: cort <cort@ecn.purdue.edu>
To: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Message Hash: aaed15eeddd558d2073a6bce52b9e816c8bb71b1ce2602758d0b152a5cf1aea8
Message ID: <199407060450.XAA19783@en.ecn.purdue.edu>
Reply To: <199407060358.UAA08529@netcom11.netcom.com>
UTC Datetime: 1994-07-06 04:51:14 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 5 Jul 94 21:51:14 PDT

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From: cort <cort@ecn.purdue.edu>
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 94 21:51:14 PDT
To: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Subject: Passwords/Safes/PINs funny story
In-Reply-To: <199407060358.UAA08529@netcom11.netcom.com>
Message-ID: <199407060450.XAA19783@en.ecn.purdue.edu>
MIME-Version: 1.0
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> > >What do we do about a population which thinks a 4-digit PIN is secure?


> Fact is, most people never think about real security.
> Safe manufacturers have said that improvements in safes (the metal
> kind) were driven by insurance rates. A direct incentive to spend more


Speaking of safes and the psychology of passwords....

A very funny (and scientifically interesting) book is:

_Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman_

One of its chapters (entitled "Safecracker" if my memory serves)
discusses the locking file cabinets and safes used by the scientists
working on the Manhattan Project (_big_ bomb).

Richard P. Feynman took great joy picking, cracking and otherwise
bypassing these security measures.  He got no end of joy guessing
passwords (combinations) based on the personality of the safe owner.
The first digits of pi and e were common....

One very high military muckety-muck spent a great deal of money for
a walk-in safe with very thick, hardened steel walls.  (Since 
the importance of secrets is obviously proportional to rank!)
The high muckety-muck never took the time to change the default

The math is easy; its the cultural side of crypto that tough!


P.S.  There is a compact disk recording available of the late 
Mr. Feynman actually telling this story (along with some of his
famous bongo music).  It is a treasure if you are interested in
that sort of thing.  I don't have the address of the publisher,
but it can be found somewhere in the second biography of RPF.
(Something like, _You Can Think for Yourself_...????)