Newsmaker: Ashwini Rao
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.
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.”