How to write a song

I’ve written six songs within the last week or so, keeping a full-time job and living an otherwise fairly normal life. I don’t claim they are any good, only that they were surprisingly easy to make. In this article I give you a blow by blow account of how this happened, the tools I used, and the process I followed. Maybe you’ll find something that will uncork your own creativity. Read More

Australians, use PassLok!

I’m not Australian, but I can’t help putting in my two (US) cents’ worth on the current debate over theĀ “Assistance and Access Bill.” My point is that the bill has no teeth since it is possible for any citizen (terrorist or not) to use encryption that the bill will never be able to control. It has been possible for years and will remain so for the foreseeable future. So might as well drop the bill and do some productive business. Read More

How to measure string tension easily

They say that “high tension” strings pull harder on the neck of a guitar than “normal” or “light” tension. You have tested tension with your fingers and indeed some strings seem to have more tension than others, but how much, exactly? How can I tell whether the tension of one of my strings is too high or too low? I’ve run into this sort of discussion in several forums (like this one, or this other one, or still this one) and nobody seems to have the answer, yet you know that “your fingers tell you.” In this article, I translate that qualitative method into one that will give you a pretty accurate number, and explain the math behind it. Read More

Split secrets by hand

They say that the formula for Coca-Cola is split among the company’s executives, so that a certain number of them have to get together in order to reconstruct it. The same is true of the nuclear launch codes, which require several persons to agree. I just ran into a clever way to do this with pencil and paper, and couldn’t resist improving on it. Read More

4 cool features in SynthPass

This post is motivated by Aaron Toponce’s comment on my previous article on the release of SynthPass. Rather than giving a short reply, I decided this was the opportunity to explain certain features of my recently released SynthPass password generator. In essence, the comment said that password generators will never be appealing to consumers because of certain flaws emanating from their very nature, which are aptly described in this article, entitled “4 fatal flaws in deterministic password managers,” published November 2016 in Tony Arcieri’s blog.

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My encryption apps updated

PassLok Privacy, PassLok for Email, SeeOnce, and URSA, both in their standalone and extension versions, have all been updated. Besides the usual bug squashing, there are two more significant enhancements:

  1. Fewer errors, which now cause the programs to return to the user rather than interrupt execution. A subtle but maybe important difference, especially for the extensions.
  2. Enhanced password/Key entry. The “Show” checkbox is gone, replaced by a standard “eye” icon on the right of the box. There is also a mnemonic “Hashili” word accompanying the strength score, so users can be reassured that they typed their password or Key correctly.

Read more for a fuller description of Hashili. Read More

Which password generator is the best?

September 2018. You see your user ID listed as having its login compromised in a recent hack. You know you need to change your password but don’t don’t want to (or just can’t) remember yet another different one. Everybody is talking about password managers as the way to go, but you also heard about password generators, which make passwords on the fly rather than store them. You suspect that’s better than a conventional password manager. Read More

SynthPass released

Chances are you, like me, have a collection of logins, each with their separate requirements for password strength and lifetime, user ID, and so forth, and your memory has already reached the saturation point. Since writing them on a piece of paper is a no-no, you may have resorted to a password manager. There are many good ones, even free ones, but you still wonder if things could be a little easier. If you are thinking this, SynthPass is for you. It does not work like the other password managers, which store your logins more or less securely, but rather gets around the whole problem by not storing your passwords.

Intrigued? Read on… Read More

Encrypt into an image

About a year ago, I added to PassLok and its derivatives a very secure algorithm for image steganography. It was presented at the ForenSecure 2017 conference on cybersecurity and forensics, but I just dawned on me that I didn’t post anything about it on this blog, for those who may not have attended that conference. I believe that, one year later, this method is still the reigning world champion for image steganography. This article explains how it works, hopefully in a form that is easy to understand, and includes a sample program and some sample results. Read More