August 26th, 2011

mourning

If you watch the Harry Potter series backwards...

If you watch the Harry Potter series backwards, it's the story of a selfless Benjamin Button-esque character, Harry Potter, who uses magic to bring to life a pale and deformed creature that, like its master, goes around bringing people to life and healing others, with a small band of devoted followers. The creature, named Voldemort, is constantly at odds with the villain Dumbledore, who is angry that one of Voldemort's disciples revived him after a long and fulfilling life, because to him, death was just the next great adventure. But Voldemort and his aptly named Death Eaters (because they are eating Death itself) carry on, even risking their lives and personal well being on their mission of mercy.

Dumbledore manages to warp the mind of the backwards-aging Harry Potter against his own creation, and in a fight against Voldemort in a graveyard, the poor creature loses his powers and becomes a spirit. (After the fight, one of only two remaining faithful revives the poor Cedric Diggory, who goes on to be Turned by a sparklevamp.) Abandoned by almost all his disciples, who have lost faith in the mission, Voldemort goes looking for a way to regain his powers so he can continue to do good works, occasionally running into Dumbledore and Harry along the way.

Finally, in the end, Voldemort pays his master one last visit, when Harry has regressed to age one year old. He has regained enough of his powers where he intends to sacrifice his life to cure Harry's backwards aging. He tries, and fails to cure Harry, but miraculously regains his body and his powers. He immediately brings his master's dead parents back to life, as one last gift to Harry before moving on to find his disciples and carry on in Harry's name.

Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org
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On the subject of internet banking, mother's maiden name, etc.

So [personal profile] darkoshi made this great post (link) with the great advice that those "I forgot my password" questions, which are often pretty weak security if you give it the real answers, can be made stronger by one simple fact: THEY DON'T HAVE TO MAKE SENSE. The computer isn't checking that the answers make sense, just that they match.

I made a good comment in reply, though bear in mind I hadn't read her whole entry first:

This is where being creative helps. Consider for a moment my love of reading and writing science fiction. Consider my multiple constructed languages. Consider my fascination with codes and ciphers. And then consider the weird random way my brain works. If I get to write my own security questions, they may be in code, or one of my constructed languages, or both. Even if English, I can ask questions that make most people go "What the fuck?" Even normal looking questions may have an answer impossible to guess because the answer isn't in normal English. I obviously can't cite any real examples, but let's assume for a moment that my mother's maiden name is Blue-Green (it isn't). So even if I get the boring "What is your mother's maiden name?", instead of writing "Blue-Green," I could write in TPNN "Gwehriz-Krahbaag" or encode "Comvof-Hosoffoo" or encode "Coxfisja-Losbicobboh."

For simpler, yet sufficiently strange enough to flummox people, answers, say the question is "What was the name of your first pet?" And one could think of it in terms of a BDSM kind of human pet, and thus put something like "Gillian Anderson" or "Robert Redfield" instead of "Rover" or "Fluffy."

I also have a constructed language called Jibberesh which makes for some bizarre answers. For example, "I love you" in Jibberesh is "Oing hashbladder boing."

So, as we see, even boring questions easy to guess can be made to flummox baddies. Just make sure you can remember the answers, or write them down somewhere, preferably in an encrypted vault made with TrueCrypt, or at least in code, if you write it on paper.

One of my favorite things to do in codewriting is write a sentence in three or four different languages first, and THEN put it through a cipher. It's clever because substitution ciphers can be cracked by... I forget the proper term, but it's where they assume it's English, and look for the most common letters in the code and compare it to the most common letters in English, thus giving them a way to break it. But if you're writing in a bunch of different languages first, you'll render that method useless. Example:

Sentence to encode: "Most of us know asbestos as 'that puffy stuff it cost a fortune to take out of the walls of public schools.'"

First, with TPNN conlang bits: "Vahzii seh grehn saber asbestos ehg 'dass puffy maik it kosten un vermogen to Nehmen Sie von heraus la falak seh preifat ysgolion.'"

Then: Encode it with a substitution cipher.

I used a few more languages in there than I usually do. I usually only use Spanish, English, and TPNN, maybe some German. In this example I used some Dutch, Welsch, and Hungarian as well. It's best to remember which languages you use.

And of course, all of that and more can be done to think of passwords to begin with.

Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org