Salted hash

saltIf today’s title made you drool then you are either: a) In need of medical attention, or b) Far too much of a nerd to be reading this blog. If today’s title made you go “huh?”, then I shall provide the following explanation, stolen from the web…

Attacks can be prevented by randomizing hashes, by appending or prepending a random string, called a salt, to the password before hashing. The salt does not need to be secret. Just by randomizing the hashes, lookup tables, reverse lookup tables, and rainbow tables become ineffective. An attacker won’t know in advance what the salt will be, so they can’t pre-compute a lookup table or rainbow table. If each user’s password is hashed with a different salt, the reverse lookup table attack won’t work either.

If you’re still none the wiser, then congratulations: You are ideally suited to the sort of random meanderings that typify the average post in this blog.

In really simple terms, secure passwords on the .net are encrypted. Really secure passwords employ a random sort of encryption based on both the password and an extra chunk of text (the ‘salt’), to produce a result that should be unguessable. For an extended glossary of some of the terms used above, see the end of this post.

I only mention the subject because I like random. Many of the most enjoyable moments in my life have arisen from pretty random occurrences, decisions, and events and I find something very satisfying in knowing that no matter how well-prepared, organised or otherwise in control we may be, any of our plans can be brought down or transformed by a single random occurrence. Randomness, for me, conjures up thoughts of doing things on the spur of the moment, taking the occasional crazy risk or wild decision; it means going with the flow and not always considering the consequences; it can mean bafflement and confusion, but equally, it can mean pleasant surprises and fun. Best of all, I think the unexpectedness of randomly occurring situations can add to their appeal – without ever intending it, it’s possible to have life-changing experiences, make new friends, discover previously unknown talents, and learn things we never knew before.

burning4_001Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I find SL so appealing – if ever there was a world in which the most random situations and circumstances were commonplace, it is the one within which we live our virtual lives. Even on those occasions when we log in with a firm plan and a good idea of exactly what to expect, we can find ourselves completely thrown, thanks to the actions of others and our own interactions with the environment in which we find ourselves. And, just like in RL, these can have sometimes far-reaching consequences. Many of my closest friends inworld would never have known me if it wasn’t for a random sequence of events or a chance encounter that opened the door to unexpected possibilities. The activities I pursue, the places I visit, even – on occasion – the clothes I happen to be wearing, can frequently be attributed to some random seed sown across my virtual pathway.

A random click on the map, a random TP request, a randomly chosen store or sim… Often arbitrary choices have led to very satisfying results, and I think there’s an awful lot to be said for that kind of circumstance. To my mind, there’s far too many things in life that are set out and follow predefined and strict paths and patterns – I am not the sort of person who relishes the thought of being constrained by order and design, I always need that element of the unknown and unexpected to keep my interest and stir my emotions. Perhaps that’s why, like so many others, this simple world of pixels still manages to grab my attention even after all this time…

And long may it do so!

String – stuff for tying parcels up.
Salt – seasoning for food, often found hobnobbing with pepper, or vinegar.
Password – ‘123456’
Hash – the usual result of trying to write a sensible blog post.
Lookup table – when sat at the head of a banquet, the act of gazing wistfully at the distant salt.
Rainbow table – the result of giving paint to young children.

s. x

No one I think is in my tree
I mean it must be high or low
That is you can’t, you know, tune in
But it’s all right
That is I think it’s not too bad
The Runaways – Strawberry Fields Forever

This entry was posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL, Techietalk. Bookmark the permalink.

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