Password Security

Passwords must be kept confidential and follow certain guidelines or they will be easily hacked. Online tools are readily available to crack passwords but following a few rules can make them more secure. Read the sidebar on password security for some effective policies on how to create secure passwords. Be able to name and explain three methods that can be used to make or keep passwords secure.

Why is using just a simple user ID/password not considered a secure method of authentication? It turns out that this single-factor authentication is extremely easy to compromise. Good password policies must be put in place in order to ensure that passwords cannot be compromised. Below are some of the more common policies that organizations should put in place.

  • Require complex passwords. One reason passwords are compromised is that they can be easily guessed. A recent study found that the top three passwords people used in 2012 were password123456 and 12345678. A password should not be simple, or a word that can be found in a dictionary. One of the first things a hacker will do is try to crack a password by testing every term in the dictionary! Instead, a good password policy is one that requires the use of a minimum of eight characters, and at least one upper-case letter, one special character, and one number.
  • Change passwords regularly. It is essential that users change their passwords on a regular basis. Users should change their passwords every sixty to ninety days, ensuring that any passwords that might have been stolen or guessed will not be able to be used against the company.
  • Train employees not to give away passwords. One of the primary methods that is used to steal passwords is to simply figure them out by asking the users or administrators. Pretexting occurs when an attacker calls a helpdesk or security administrator and pretends to be a particular authorized user having trouble logging in. Then, by providing some personal information about the authorized user, the attacker convinces the security person to reset the password and tell him what it is. Another way that employees may be tricked into giving away passwords is through e-mail phishing. Phishing occurs when a user receives an e-mail that looks as if it is from a trusted source, such as their bank, or their employer. In the e-mail, the user is asked to click a link and log in to a website that mimics the genuine website and enter their ID and password, which are then captured by the attacker.

Source: David T. Bourgeois,
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Last modified: Thursday, April 15, 2021, 4:22 PM