Chemical passwords

Saturday 28 May 2011 View all posts

The very fact that you are reading this tends to suggest that you use the Internet a lot. One of the frustrating things that I find is that I am often required to give a username and a password to access particular sites – particularly those that would like me to part with my money!

The username is easy but what to do for the password? Many people simply use the same password for all sites as it is easy to remember. The problem with this is that like PIN numbers once the security is breached then it puts all the accounts in jeopardy. There have been many examples of this particularly when people use the same password for sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

If you are responsible and use a different password for each site then the problem is that you cannot possibly remember them all correctly so they end up getting written down which again compromises security. I recently forgot a password and the computer-generated one that was sent to my e-mail account after I requested it was 6xo7g5nNp8. Clearly this is not something I am going to carry in my head and so as usual I was asked if I wanted to change it to one of my choosing. Like most strong passwords this must contain at least six characters and be a mixture of lower and upper case letters and contain at least one number.

At last I have found an everyday practical use for all that Chemistry you teach in school!!

Most organic compounds such as glucose, C6H12O6 are not going to be any good as they do not contain lower case letters but ionic salts are a gift in terms of being able to remember them easily (as you only need to remember just two or maybe three words e.g. zinc nitrate or hydrated copper sulfate).

Here are just a few of the thousands that you could use:

ZnNO32, CuSO45H2O, NaCH3COO, MgSO47H2O (Epsom salts) and IrCOPPh32Cl (Vaska’s complex)

Make up your own from your favourite chemical and you need never write down or forget a password again.

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Cows' farts
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Alcohol in the body


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