Petrus Potgieter

CIO, Phulukisa Health Solutions

Petrus Potgieter has a PhD in mathematics and extensive experience in modelling and consulting work, mainly in the financial and telecommunications industries. His research has a strong computational focus – including in simulation of economic decision problems, problems in quantum computing and error-free computing in general, but also in heuristics such as machine learning. Aside from founding the company Smarter Analytics, he is co-inventor of the Yimi system for secure permissioned sharing of documents and of a mechanical password device for generating random passwords.

Petrus Potgieter will be speaking on the following topic:

Password models in the real world

The ideal password selection method is to generate a random string that is so long an attacker would find it practically impossible to iterate through all random strings of the specified length, and for the user of the password to then perfectly recall the password. Two practical impediments immediately apply: the inability of users to remember random strings and the impracticality of deducing from a specific single string that a random selection produced it and from what space it might have been selected. Commonly, this difficulty is addressed by a password policy, such as that published by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). We discuss the weaknesses of rules-based policies and the inevitable trade-off between rules that delimit “bad” passwords and allowing the space from which passwords are chosen to expand. This presentation will give you a better understanding of principles in password policies and insights into how “good” password policies can be circumvented and can sometimes be counter-productive.

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