FMT-  AnnatarVictorNate 2016-04-08 16:31:18 发表于  [  资料共享  ]
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We despise them – yet we imbue them with our hopes, dreams and dearest memories.


Howard Lutnick, the chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the world’s largest financial services firms, still cries when he talks about it. Not long after the planes struck the World Trade Center twin towers in 2001, killing 658 of his co-workers and friends, including his brother, one of the first things on Lutnick’s mind was passwords. This may seem callous, but it was not.

世界最大金融服务公司之一Cantor Fitzgerald的总裁霍华德·鲁特尼克,直到现在谈论起这件事情还是在哭泣。在911事件中的飞机撞击世贸中心双子塔使他的658位同事、其中包括他的哥哥丧命之后,他脑中第一件想起来的事情就是,密码。这看起来似乎很无情,但其实不是。

Like virtually everyone else caught up in the events that day, Lutnick, who had taken the morning off to escort his son Kyle to his first day of kindergarten, was in shock. But he was also responsible for ensuring the viability of his company and the support it provided for employees’ families. The biggest threat: no-one knew the passwords for hundreds of accounts and files that were needed to get back online in time for the reopening of the bond markets. Cantor Fitzgerald did have extensive contingency plans in place, including a requirement that all employees tell their work passwords to four nearby colleagues. But now a large majority of the firm’s 960 New York employees were dead.

就像被卷入那次事件的每个人一样,鲁特尼克那时正护送他第一天上幼儿园的儿子上学。他被深深地震惊了,但是他还是要对公司的继续运营负责,对雇员家庭提供支持。然而最大的威胁是:没有人知道成百个账号和文件的密码,而这些密码对债权市场的重新运作是至关重要的。Cantor Fitzgerald公司的确有丰富的应急预案,这其中就包括一项措施:每个员工都把自己的工作密码告诉邻近的四个员工。但是现在,这家纽约公司960名员工中的大部分都已经死了。

Hours after the attacks, more than 30 security experts dispatched from Microsoft arrived at an improvised Cantor Fitzgerald command centre. Many of the missing passwords would prove to be relatively secure – the JHx6fT!9 type that the company’s IT department had implored everyone to choose. To crack those, the Microsoft technicians performed ‘brute-force’ attacks, using fast computers to begin with ‘a’, then work through every possible letter and number combination before ending at ‘ZZZZZZZ’. But even with the fastest computers, brute-force attacks, working through trillions of combinations, could take days.

袭击发生的几个小时之后,微软派出了30多名安全专家前往Cantor Fitzgerald的临时指挥中心破解密码。这些密码大部分都是相当安全的,比如JHx6fT!9这种复杂的密码,IT部门当时要求大家都这么设。为了破解这些密码,微软的技术专家使用了穷举算法,用电脑从“a”开始,穷举尽各种字符组合,一直到“ZZZZZZZZ”为止。可是就算是最快的计算机,使用这种破解方法,挨个试出万亿个可能的组合,也要好几天。

Microsoft’s technicians knew that they needed to take advantage of two facts: many people use the same password for multiple accounts, and these passwords are typically personalised. The technicians explained that for their algorithms to work best, they needed large amounts of trivia about the owner of each missing password, the kinds of things that were too specific, too personal and too idiosyncratic for companies to keep on file.


“It’s the details that make people distinct, that make them individuals,” Lutnick said. He soon found himself on the phone, desperately trying to compartmentalise his own agony while calling the spouses, parents and siblings of his former colleagues to console them – and to ask them, ever so gently, whether they knew their loved ones’ passwords. Most often they did not, which meant that Lutnick had to begin working his way through a checklist that had been provided to him by the Microsoft technicians. “What is your wedding anniversary? Tell me again where he went for undergrad? You guys have a dog, don’t you? What’s her name?”


“Remember, this was less than 24 hours after the towers had fallen,” Lutnick recalled. Families had not accepted their losses. Conversations oscillated between crying and agonising silences. “Awful,” he said. Sometimes it took more than an hour to work through the checklist, but Lutnick said he made sure that he was never the one to hang up first.


In the end, Microsoft’s technicians got what they needed. The firm was back in operation within two days. The same human sentimentality that made Cantor Fitzgerald’s passwords ‘weak’ ultimately proved to be the company’s saving grace.


Several years ago, I began asking my friends and family to tell me their passwords. I had come to believe that these tiny personalised codes get a poor deal. Yes, I understand why passwords are universally despised: the strains they put on our memory, the endless demand to update them, their sheer number. I hate them too. But there is more to passwords than their annoyance.


In the fact that we construct them so that we (and only we) will remember them, they take on secret lives. Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar – these keepsake passwords are like trinkets of our inner lives.


My biggest surprise has been how eager people are to openly discuss their keepsakes. There was the former prisoner whose password includes what used to be his inmate identification number (“a reminder not to go back”); the fallen-away Catholic whose passwords incorporate the Virgin Mary (“it’s secretly calming”); the childless 45-year-old whose password is the name of the baby boy she lost in utero (“my way of trying to keep him alive, I guess”).


Sometimes the passwords were playful. Several people said they used incorrect for theirs so that when they forgot it, the software automatically prompted them with the right one (“your password is incorrect”).

有的时候密码也是胡闹取的。有些人说,他们使用“incorrect”作为自己的密码,这样一旦他们忘了密码,系统会自动提示“your password is incorrect。(你的密码是incorrect)”(实际意义是你的密码错了)

Some keepsakes were striking for their ingenuity, folding big thoughts down into tidy little ciphers. After being inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Cortni Kerr, a running partner of mine, began using Ww$$do13, which stood for “What would Sheryl Sandberg do” plus “13” for the year (2013) of the password’s creation.


TnsitTpsif was the password of another friend, a computer scientist who loves wordplay. It stands for “The next sentence is true. The previous sentence is false”, which in philosophy is called a liar’s paradox. For my friend, it was a playful reference to the knots that language can tie.


Often, these disclosures had an emotional edge. One woman described the jarring realisation that her sister’s name was the basis for all their mother’s passwords. Another recalled needling her husband, Will, after their wedding in 2013 because he was still using the digits of his ex-girlfriend’s birthday for his debit card PIN. “I’m not a jealous person,” she said. “But he changed it to my birthday the next day.”


While asking strangers about their passwords is a touchy proposition, it’s not every day that you stumble across something that teaches you new things about people you’ve known for years.


The 4622 that my wife uses in her passwords was not just the address of her own father’s childhood home but also a reminder of his fragility and strength. Apparently when the former 120 kg football standout was a small boy, he had to sing his home address (4622 South 28th West Avenue) in one full breath rather than try to say it normally; otherwise, his debilitating stutter would trip him up.


While computer scientists would prefer that our passwords be a hard-to-crack jumble, precisely what makes passwords so flawed is also what computer scientist Joseph Bonneau finds uplifting. “People take a nonnatural requirement imposed on them, like memorising a password,” he said, “and make it a meaningful human experience.”


In 1993, when she was 22, Maria Allen used for her password a combination of the name of her summer crush, J.D., with a month and the name of a mythological female deity (she wouldn’t tell me which) to whom he had compared her when they’d first met. The fling ended, and they went their separate ways. But the password endured.


Eleven years later, out of the blue, Allen received a message through classmates.com from J.D. They dated a few years, then decided to marry. Before the wedding, J.D. asked Maria if she had ever thought of him during that interim decade. “About every time I logged in to my Yahoo! account,” she replied, before telling him her secret. He had the password inscribed on the inside of his wedding ring.


FMT -  AnnatarVictorNate 2021-11-24 07:53:34 重新编辑

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