Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Bigger Your password, Bigger The Punch

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @HousingITguy
or LinkedIn here

Size does matter, it's not everything by any means, but it does matter. That's certainly the case with passwords. A very interesting subject and one I have just confronted, having a client who has just seemingly discovered password formats, after a few dozen password changes I have done over quite a while.

So how does size and complexity affect the crack-ability of a password?

Well a great site I came across, just this week from the most excellent University Of Sterling, which has turned out some brilliant social housing professionals, has just the tool.

Check this one out-

Above is an example of one of my passwords. Pretty neat, I am sure, but not secure if I provide it to someone just spoofing me, despite its secure length. As can be seen, it has lower case, upper case, numbers and symbols.

So how should we be thinking about passwords?

Well, as long as we key them in, only where they should be, there are a few top tips.

Many people and organisations use that old trick of substituting letters with numbers. You know, the old Pa22w0rd trick. While this goes some way to coming up with hard to guess passwords, basing the whole theme around a feeling or a event, can be the way to remember it. Maybe always capitalise the same sequenced letter of a password. capitalising just the first character is very 1990's, maybe always capitalise the next to last or middle letter.

For goodness sake, avoid predictable week to week or month to month changes, in the same position. E.G. 'FredJul16' might be predicted as 'FredDec16' later in the year, if a co-worker had seen your pattern.

Perhaps adopt ISO17799 style password quality guidelines.
  • Passwords should be at least six characters long.
  • All should be free of consecutive identical characters.
  • No use of all numbers or all letters.
  • Disallow reusing or recycling old passwords.
  • Require that passwords be changed at regular intervals.
  • Forcing users to change temporary passwords at the next log-on.
  • Maintain a record of previous user passwords and prevent their reuse.
  • Change all supplier default passwords.
  • Eliminate or lock shared-user accounts.
Six characters is a pretty easy length of password to crack. Using the tool named above a six character password of maximum complexity, will take 43 hours to crack. One of limited complexity, just 6 seconds.

Guest accounts and 'sa' in SQL Server, offer easy back doors. Fail to secure these at your peril.  

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Related Post: What happens when Channel Shift may slim down your service centre? 


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China Crisis - Bigger The Punch I'm FeelingChina Crisis - Bigger The Punch I'm Feeling.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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