Long pass phrases!

Yarn bike

Don’t use a pass word! Use a pass phrase . Twelve or more letters, the odd number and lower and upper case letters, make it something you can remember but long and easy for you to remember is the most important thing.

For example I like dogs, bentley cars and pingpong I might write a sticky note that says
Fave animal
Fave car
Fave sport

and the pass phrase might look like


This is a good pass phrase
But think of it like this

To quote From the TheGreatContini who posts on stackoverflow.
While discusing “How long to brute force 16 character secret key

There are 62 possibilities for each character, and 16 characters. This translates to 62^16 (47672401706823533450263330816) trials worse case, or half of that on average. If the attacker can do a billion trials per second, that means 47672401706823533450 seconds, which is about 1511681941489 years. I think that’s pretty good protection. You could even chop off a few characters and still feel pretty safe.

Probably best not to put your exact pass phrase in this (just in case some one nasty sniffs if across the net work or the interweb) but have a play with this site it’s fun and gets the point home.

The other thing is don’t use the same pass phrase for all accounts!
What you might say do I have to remember lots of pass phrases? Well the next thing to do is start using the keychain, but I’ll talk more about this in another exciting episode!

Have fun and be safe on the interwebs

Why it’s important to monitor logs

A while back I wrote sshfail. It’s a script to look at attempts on the ssh protocol on servers. You can find it up on git hub if your interested and want to install in your self. https://github.com/nevetsanderson/sshfail .

The interesting thing is that even if you use a non standard port to run ssh on (which is what this data relates to) it’s only a matter of time before modern hackers or bots or some Bs8dutard’s find that information and it gets propergated. Have a look at this raw data.


As you can see things got ugly after about 11 days… from 28 to 5873 attempts on the server per day and within 2 weeks. Also worth considering is how did things go from weeks of no one being able to detect this, to 28 ip address suddenly finding my machine on the same day and then it increasing to 195 (Jan 3-9). I’d love to know what’s going on in the background. How is information is being propergated?

So as you can also observe on the 15 th, I changed the port and things have been have quiet since then but the issue is… If I hadn’t been observant and actually looked at the numbers then I’d be giving the bad guys a chance at reeking havok…

Stay safe out there people, and actually look at your log data!

Your machine and it’s code

So I’ve been thinking a lot of late about machines, exploits and how to stop this sort of thing. I’ve been in situations where developers have created “stuff” on production machines and then left the company. The problem then becomes interesting if that code does not work with an up dated version of the software say wordpress, drupal or the operating system.

Urban dross

Your then in a situation (if the machine is a web server or open and available on the net) where about the only thing you can do is lock down the firewall and harden the old un patched OS and hope that no one finds a way in / attacks the machine.

It’s always good to have at least 2 people who understand custom code in any company especially if you have a number of web servers to mange. But even then re building something and re creating that functionality is not always easy – and management need to be aware of the fact that this will take time and cost money.

So if that keen shiny developer comes along one day promising you a widget that will sell your own grandmother and only cost you a few hundred bucks worth of con-sultan fees, my advice is to run screaming from the room.

The up shot I’m trying to put to you? Have the ability to own your own code – because if you don’t and if it gets hacked or is found to be vulnerable it’s going to cost you!

A simple approach is best – easier management and long term savings.