EFF Dice-Generated Passphrases via Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets

In 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation created some enhancements over the original Diceware Passphrase list by creating the EFF Dice-Generated Passphrases list. This post is my effort to use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to semi-randomly generate random passwords by using the EFF’s Long Wordlist [.txt].

Please note, while I am an IT professional, I’m not a cryptographer or mathematician. The passwords generated via these Microsoft Excel formulas are semi-random. They represent a good-enough approach to creating passwords users can memorize. Use passed.pw or LastPass’ Password Generator for longer passwords that contain more entropy. As always, use a good password manager and enable multi-factor authentication when available.

TL/DR: Links to the live Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets worksheets

If you just want some semi-randomly generated passphrases based on the EFF Large Wordlist, select either of these read-only publicly-accessible links.

Results

This is what you’ll find: 10- to 16-character easy-to-remember semi-random passphrases. Refresh your browser (F5) to generate a new round of passphrases.

Screenshot

A screenshot of the EFF Dice-Generated Passphrases via Microsoft Excel.

EFF Dice-Generated Passphrase via Microsoft Excel
EFF Dice-Generated Passphrase via Microsoft Excel

Example

Here is a static example of the semi-random passphrases these worksheets randomly create.

14Good14Better15Good15Better16Good16Better
DarnLungScuff1stoic-UNWIND-8GoryKudosStove0tidbit-FOOTSIE-4GiftRelicHuddle6baggie-WOMANLY-1
IckyLionCacti1pagan-PRECUT-9EpicAlbumVerse4stingy-ARMBAND-8ShunWharfBootie3varied-SCALLOP-8
GrubLifeSkies8humid-STINKY-2MoveClassPurge3sudoku-HAGGLER-0IconGauzeEclair5lively-SHELTER-8
RushWindZesty7shape-JAILER-9OvenAptlyFruit5tattoo-SLOUCHY-9DawnVersePurple6affirm-CONDONE-4
RiftLateTweak7mummy-CLAMMY-9JeepPhonyFetal5drudge-CLOTHES-0OmitBakedStress9idiocy-SWOONED-5
TallBlipUsher2crock-CUDDLE-0WishCacheChest1tinker-PROWLER-2VoidAtlasGravel1panama-IMPLANT-6
BathHaltKooky8shock-DELETE-8HateBootsPesky0violet-RUBDOWN-9DialEruptTaking2deeply-SCROOGE-1
JawsLarkSandy0grape-CIRCUS-2RakeEruptRigor0myself-SKYWARD-3DoleUsherTissue0idiocy-MUSTANG-6
DarnLeftChaos6visor-WANTED-6HateDingoIdiom4saloon-CLATTER-4LurkTiaraHarbor2awaken-DENSITY-8
HurtEbayYield0couch-GANDER-4GulpBunnyDecaf9unholy-PROWESS-5OozyJuicyGrudge1specks-OUTLOOK-5

How it works

The essential components to using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to generate semi-random passphrases are:

You will find a few more hidden sheets of data (like city names or shorter versions of the EFF dice words) that you may use if you want to customize your own formulas. Please, do make a copy of either worksheet and modify to meet your needs.

Formulas

My files generate 10- to 16-character passphrases. The 10Good column contains a 10-character passphrase of lowercase, uppercase and numbers. The 10Better column simply adds punctuation. Please look at the examples above to get a good idea.

Good Formula

This Excel formula does not include punctuation.

=INDEX(DataEFFLong1!$F$84:$F$550,RANDBETWEEN(1,ROWS(DataEFFLong1!$F$84:$F$550)),1)
&INDEX(DataEFFLong1!$F$551:$F$1478,RANDBETWEEN(1,ROWS(DataEFFLong1!$F$551:$F$1478)),1)
&CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(48,57))

There are two INDEX functions that use the RANDBETWEEN function to select a random EFF word from a range of words that are pre-sorted by how many characters are in each word; followed by a CHAR function that uses the RANDBETWEEN function to select a random number.

Better Formula

This Excel formula adds punctuation. In cell B14, I use this formula to select a semi-random delimiter from the ASCII table (characters , – . /).

=CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(44,47))

Then I simply include this semi-randomly selected punctuation into the formula.

=INDEX(DataEFFLong1!$E$2:$E$83,RANDBETWEEN(1,ROWS(DataEFFLong1!$E$2:$E$83)),1)
&$B$14
&INDEX(DataEFFLong1!$D$84:$D$550,RANDBETWEEN(1,ROWS(DataEFFLong1!$D$84:$D$550)),1)
&$B$14
&CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(48,57))

The result is that the user must only memorize a single punctuation value and number — along with the EFF dice words — to memorize their password.

Again, these passphrases have less entropy than passed.pw randomly-generated passwords like “U7p2uk>R,v)]HTRc”; but they are easier to memorize and should be sufficient when also protected by multi-factor authentication.

Google Sheets formulas

The formulas that Google Sheets’ uses to produce the same results as Microsoft Excel are different, but the concept is the same. Google uses ARRAY_CONSTRAIN and ARRAYFORMULA to wrap the original Excel formulas.

=ARRAY_CONSTRAIN(ARRAYFORMULA(INDEX(DataEFFLong1!$F$84:$F$550,RANDBETWEEN(1,ROWS(DataEFFLong1!$F$84:$F$550)),1)
&INDEX(DataEFFLong1!$F$551:$F$1478,RANDBETWEEN(1,ROWS(DataEFFLong1!$F$551:$F$1478)),1)
&CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(48,57))), 1, 1)

Closing

Feel free to use these worksheets as is. Optionally, add your own data sources and modify the formulas to better meet your needs.

Fragment and Social Distance Drives

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft should have updated its Defragment and Optimize Drives tool to do the inverse by maintaining at least six-bits of separation from neighboring data.

Social Distance Drives
Maintain at least a six-bits of separation.

It says “You can fragment your drives to help your data maintain a safe social distance (at least a six-bits of separation). Only drives on or connected to your computer are shown.”

Here’s how they should have placed it in your start menu.

Fragment and Social Distance Drives
How to find Fragment and Social Distance Drives in the Windows 10 start menu.

My Google Maps photos have been viewed more than 25 million times

I enjoy adding photos to Google Maps. That enjoyment really increased a few years ago when I bought a 360-degree camera. Since 360-degree cameras are still a bit of a novelty, my images get more views than most.

Last week, Google sent me an email saying:

Hi Jason, You’re a top photographer on Google Maps You’ve just accomplished what very few people have done: reached 25,000,000 photo views. Congratulations on the amazing accomplishment

To be specific, that’s 3,426 images generating 25,198,085 views on Google Maps as of today, February 29, 2020. An average of 7,354 views per image.

The most popular image is this 360-degree photo I quickly snapped while exiting a Cincinatti Reds baseball game, which has achieved 5,051,046 views.

It’s a nice motivating bit information information that encourages me to keep traveling and adding 360-degree photos to Google Maps.

Papa John’s will solicit you even if you opt out

In the Papa John’s iOS mobile app, there are two opt out settings under Communications:

  • Opt in to receive email offers and alerts?
  • Opt in to receive text offers and alerts?

I had opted out of both — clearly signaling to Papa John’s that I wished to opt out of their solicitations.

Papa John's Communications Settings

Despite opting out of receiving both email and text offers and alerts from Papa John’s, they decided to solicit me anyway via iOS notifications.

Papa Johns iOS notification solicitation

Disappointed, I reached out to Papa John’s Twitter support @PapaJohns asking them to also not solicit me by iOS notifications.

After several DM exchanges of them dodging my request to opt out of iOS notification solicitation, they wrote “The notifications are built into the app, and we cannot opt you out of these, we’re sorry.”

It’s their mobile application — they have full control of what the app can and cannot do. They decided to use iOS notifications to solicit their customers, even if they opted out of text and email solicitations, and are choosing to not provide a way to opt out of notification solicitation.

Not wanting to disable notifications (notifications of purchases and deliveries are desired), I decided the best way to opt out is to delete the app and ask them to delete my account.

Goodbye Papa John’s.

Wells Fargo cannot follow its own phishing security advice

Wells Fargo has a reasonably good security page educating customers about phishing email and texting scams.

They make three good comments about how to recognize a phishing email scam, informing the user to look out for a combination of red flags:

Non-Wells Fargo email address: The email address of the sender does not include the wellsfargo.com domain name, instead using something like [email protected]

Urgent call to action: The email includes an urgent request in the subject line and message copy, such as “Don’t miss your chance to win $1,000. Complete the survey today.”

Suspicious URL: The email contains a link to a non-Wells Fargo URL, which could be a fraudulent website, such as https://mail.gallupmail.com/track?xyz.

As you may have guessed, I replaced their actual examples with similar but real content that I received by email from Wells Fargo.

On the left is a screen shot of Wells Fargo’s good security advice regarding phishing emails. On the right is a screen shot of an actual Wells Fargo email violating its own advice (verified months later as legitimate by the Wells Fargo Executive Office).

Wells Fargo emails look like phishing emails

Wells Fargo, you have a responsibility to perform email best practices. All emails from Wells Fargo should come from the wellsfargo.com domain or a subdomain of wellsfargo.com, and all links in said emails should link back to the wellsfargo.com domain or a subdomain of wellsfargo.com. Nothing less is excusable.

Follow your own security advice. Don’t send customers emails that look no different than phishing emails. By doing so, you are training your own customers to trust emails they should not trust.