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Passwords, PINs, Needles and Haystacks

Posted by on July 13, 2015.

I’m not an expert in cryptography, though I occasionally get mistaken for one when I talk about my occasional research into PINs and passwords. (However, that research is focused on psychosocial issues and dynamics rather than on the esoterica of authentication technology.)

Still, I’m quite interested in a password-focused conference that just crossed my radar to take place at the University of Cambridge in December, though probably not in terms of submitting a paper. (There is an academic conference model that runs something along the lines of ‘submit an abstract, write a paper, pay to register for the conference, then find out they don’t want your paper’ that somehow doesn’t appeal to me.)

It turns out that this is an initiative originally launched in Norway that presents annually in the US and in Europe, the Las Vegas conference in August being the ‘8th global event’. All very interesting (and I wish I’d been aware of it when I was more active on the security conference front), but…

Perhaps I’m old and crotchety – well, no perhaps about it – but I find it puzzling, even mildly annoying that a conference in England – indeed, a conference to be held at a university that is held to be one of the authorities on English as it is spoken and written in the UK – considers it necessary to list ‘important dates’ in the big-endian format (e.g.  2015-11-16) favoured by the US (sometimes, but by no means in all contexts). Not simply because it’s a format rarely used in the UK (well, maybe a little, but it is a format legitimized by ISO 8601), but because it seems to me that there’s a clear case in documents like this (i..e. meant to be human-readable rather than machine-readable) to avoid ambiguity by using full calendar dates (e.g. 16th November 2015 – I’m not fussy about precise formats!).

Now returning to pre-grump mode.

David Harley 


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