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Essential Guide to Computing: The Story of Information Technology, The by E. Garrison Walters

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Cracking Codes

The following is a very brief introduction to a particularly complex topic. Also, although the technology behind code breaking is fairly stable, the very important legal environment is subject to extreme stress and could change significantly.

Methodology

The easiest way to crack a code is to physically steal the key—e.g., copy it from a screen. Don't laugh, it happens all the time. Next easiest is to have some clue as to what it is. A simple way to get a password is to try people's names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. Another way is to check "welcome," or whatever the default for that system is, since many people never change it. The prevalence of this kind of cracking is why system security people insist (and sometimes software ...

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