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Password Requirements September 28, 2013

Posted by cgreigmu06 in Security.

Passwords are a key component for providing security in a technological environment.  The structure of passwords has evolved over time more from a necessity than from innovation.  Passwords are vital to providing a secure environment for users to work in and also to prevent unwanted users from causing harm to various systems and applications.  The simplest passwords are ones that are shorter in length and common (in a dictionary), harder passwords are longer and uncommon (have no uniformity and include numbers etc.).  Character requirement are used for many different computing systems and or applications, characters are choose more its potential uniqueness [1].  The idea is that a password with different and longer bit password requirements will make the password harder to crack, as long the user follows certain rules.

Passwords can be used in many different ways and we as users have a tendency to pick passwords that are easy to remember or have meaning in our everyday lives, which is both helpful and harmful to the user.  Having a password that is meaningful increases the likely hood that a password will be remembered, but it opens the doors for unwanted users to figure out that meaningful information with having some basic knowledge of the person they are trying to gain access from.

The best form of password is one that can be remembered easy, but also include many of the different ASCII characters requirements.  The example we will talk about will be a password that includes eight characters, includes upper and lower case characters, includes numbers and has some form of a special character.  Having all of these requirements should make for a stronger password, but that is not always the case which we will go through later [2].  Though the requirements are not overly complex, remembering how to use them can make for a challenge for the user.  Due to the challenges users have tendency to write down the password, which can be easy lost to the wrong hands.

Tips for writing passwords [3]:

  • Though it breaks one of original rules find something memorable.  Passwords that are really hard also can’t be remembered, which leads the user to write down this information.
  • When chaptalizing select any one of the character requirement spaces. (i.e. the first or third character or both).
  • When using special characters try to find like alpha characters could be represented. (i.e. a – @, l – !, s – $, etc. it really depends on how you view the mapping).
  • Numbers can also be used like specials characters or they can be used to represent something that someone else might not know.

Following these tips can make for a more enjoyable password creating environment, hopefully making for an easy way to make a new password.

With all of this a side the eight character password can now be cracked in a more timely matter with today’s super computer using a form of forced attack.  Making sure when setting up a password that you follow the simple steps for having a strong password and continual education about the advantages of strong passwords creation will make for a more secure working environment.


[1] Robert Morris and Ken Thompson. 1979. Password security: a case history. Commun. ACM 22, 11 (November 1979), 594-597. DOI=10.1145/359168.359172, Available online at:  http://0-doi.acm.org.libus.csd.mu.edu/10.1145/359168.359172

[2] Schaffer, K., “Are Password Requirements too Difficult?,” Computer , vol.44, no.12, pp.90,92, Dec. 2011, Available online at: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumbe r=6096560&isnumber=6096537

[3] Steven Furnell, Assessing password guidance and enforcement on leading websites, Computer Fraud & Security, Volume 2011, Issue 12, December 2011, Pages 10-18, ISSN 1361-3723, Available online at: http://0-dx.doi.org.libus.csd.mu.edu/10.1016/S1361-3723(11)70123-3.



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