Shamir Secret Sharing
It’s 3am. Paul, the head of PayPal database administration carefully enters his elaborate passphrase at a keyboard in a darkened cubicle of 1840 Embarcadero Road in East Palo Alto, for the fifth time. He hits Return. The green-on-black console window instantly displays one line of text: “Sorry, one or more wrong passphrases. Can’t reconstruct the key. Goodbye.”
This is the story of a catastrophic software bug I briefly introduced into the PayPal codebase that almost cost us the company (or so it seemed, in the moment.)
Today, should you try to read up the programmer’s manual (AKA the man page) on getpass, you will find it has been long declared obsolete and replaced with a more intelligent alternative in nearly all flavors of modern Unix.