Friday, April 24, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same

A few weeks ago, the library at my daughter's school had a sale to get rid of some of their old books. That day, my daughter came home with a computer book published in 1984 entitled Computer Kids. The book is essentially interviews with children of various ages who use computers in school and at home. Its a very interesting read as it shows how computers were thought of back then.

One chapter in particular caught my eye because it was about computer security. The chapter focuses on a boy, who at the time was a senior in high school. In the chapter, the boy talks about copying games with his Vic20 and wardialing into other computers. At the end of the chapter, the author asks him what advice he would give to companies:

If someone were to ask me what else companies can do to protect their computer systems, I'd tell them to use passwords that are as long as possible. Most passwords are made up of eight-digit numbers. A ten-, twelve-, or even a thirty-digit number would be better. More secure. And companies shouldn't use individual words for their passwords. It's better to use a combination of words that are unlikely together.

Companies can also change passwords often, or they require the approval of one of more persons to gain access to the computer.

Interesting how advice 25 years ago is still valid today.