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Newsmaker: Ashwini Rao

Ashwini Rao Rao will present findings from research she led on how grammar affects password security to an Association for Computing Machinery conference on Feb. 20 in San Antonio She is the newsmaker for Feb. 14, 2013,
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 11:33 p.m.
 

Noteworthy: Rao will present findings from research she led on how grammar affects password security to an Association for Computing Machinery conference on Feb. 20 in San Antonio.

Age: 32

Residence: Shadyside

Family: Husband, Birendra Jha

Occupation: Rao is a software engineering doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University.

Background: Rao worked as an engineer at Appian Corp. in Reston, Va., and Qualcomm Inc. in San Diego, as well as a researcher and teaching assistant at CMU. A research team led by Ashwini developed a password-cracking algorithm that took into account grammar and tested it against more than 1,400 passwords containing at least 16 letters. Using a phrase or short sentence might make a password easier for users to remember, but proper grammatical structure also narrows possible combinations and sequences of words, research showed.

Education: Bachelor's degree from the University of Mysore in India and master's degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay and CMU

Quote: “I've seen password policies that say, ‘Use five words.' Well, if four of those words are pronouns, they don't add much security.”

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