ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Improving your passwords through local languages [ICT Clinic]

Security on the Internet is everyone’s business. That’s why I do not just do all I can to stay safe online, but I also try to educate as many people as possible on how to do so, based on my many years of experience. A few days ago, I almost fell for a phishing setup that targeted one of my important passwords. The setup looked so accurate that I almost fell for it. The only reason I probably escaped it was because of the extra care I always take before clicking on any link.

A password is arguably the single most important aspect of an online account. It is more like a compulsory door you have to pass through before accessing your house. Just as you would, on the average, do all you can to protect your home from being burgled, that is the same way you should protect your passwords online. I have repeatedly written about the importance of password security and, if you ask me, I believe that one of the best ways to stay safe online is by using a reliable password manager.

During one of my discussions with the Director General of Delta State Innovation Hub, Chris Uwaje, he passionately shared an interesting perspective with me: that Nigerians should change their passwords to our local languages. Now, this is not the first time I am hearing this Nigerian IT industry icon share his thoughts on using local languages to even write software codes. I vividly recall back in the days, after one of the editions of my now-rested radio show, ‘Tech on Wheels with CFA’, he called me and asked, “CFA, when are you going to start broadcasting your radio show in the three main Nigerian languages?”

Back to the issue of getting more Nigerians to use their local languages as their passwords, he promised to pen down some thoughts and, after a few days, I got an email as promised. I’d like to publish an excerpt from what he sent for the benefit of those who would like to learn or put into practice some of his thoughts.

The focal point of this write-up can be summarized as follows:

“In fact, using characters from a wider pool makes it harder for an attacker to guess your password by brute force. That said, making the password slightly longer generally does that more effectively than sprinkling ‘weird’ characters into your password, (obligatory xkcd link); so, you should only use non-English characters in your password, if you can type and remember them easily, e.g. because you speak a language that uses those characters.”

“One thing to keep in mind as we further explore the subject-matter (with ASCII at the background) is to note that — Finish Reading on the Punch