Linked by Howard Fosdick on Sat 10th Nov 2012 07:28 UTC
Bugs & Viruses If you want to ensure you have adequate passwords but don't have the time or interest to study the topic, there's a useful basic article on how to devise strong passwords over at the NY Times. It summarizes key points in 9 simple rules of thumb. Also see the follow-up article for useful reader feedback. Stay safe!
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make 'm long
by cobbaut on Sat 10th Nov 2012 09:12 UTC
cobbaut
Member since:
2005-10-23

Pick a couple of words, at least one of them in your local dialect (to avoid dictionary attacks) and stick them together with numbers like this:

Coca300ColaInEmpireStrikesBack (imagine Luke drinking 300 cans of Coke)

Or make a phrase that you can easily remember:

IWant14XtraVacationDaysAfterEaster
YesINEED3cupsofcoffeeEVERYsingleday

..don't forget to insert at least one word in your local dialect.

Os use http://xkcd.com/936/

Reply Score: 5

RE: make 'm long
by UltraZelda64 on Sun 11th Nov 2012 04:23 in reply to "make 'm long"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

A really good password should include, I'd say, at the very least 12 characters (more is better; most of mine are at least 25 characters long), and include both upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. How many of each specific letter/number/symbol is not really important, at least compared to the total length of the password itself.

The thing to try to achieve is lowering the chance of any kind of brute-force attack to be successful within a reasonable time period by increasing the total number of possibilities for each individual character. The more varied the characters in the password, the stronger it is--even with a given number of total characters. If at least one of each group of characters is used (uppercase, lowercase, symbols, numbers), every added character adds a large number of possibilities to have to go through in order to be able to successfully brute-force the password.

Length and complexity are the key; the idea is to increase the total number of possible combinations to make it take an extremely long time to crack, and each added character adds to that time. But equally importantly... don't use the same username/password combo across more than one site! This is especially true with passwords used for sensitive (ie. bank) accounts. You don't want to use those ones for web forums, online VoIP services, online pizza delivery services, etc.

Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte have talked a lot about this on Security Now. Here is a link useful page on Steve's site with an interesting clip halfway down the page taken from one of their podcasts (episode 303, I believe):

https://www.grc.com/haystack.htm

His pseudo-random password generator is also useful, and the podcast itself tends to be a good listen.

Edited 2012-11-11 04:43 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: make 'm long
by Soulbender on Sun 11th Nov 2012 05:55 in reply to "RE: make 'm long"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Steve Gibson


Congratulations, your technical credibility just went rock-bottom.

Edited 2012-11-11 05:55 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: make 'm long
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Sun 11th Nov 2012 06:40 in reply to "make 'm long"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Yeah, my local dialect is standard US English. So, I think I need to write my own language for that to work. HaobwoHut tihdiesa?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: make 'm long
by Laurence on Sun 11th Nov 2012 11:32 in reply to "make 'm long"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Pick a couple of words, at least one of them in your local dialect (to avoid dictionary attacks) and stick them together with numbers like this:

Coca300ColaInEmpireStrikesBack (imagine Luke drinking 300 cans of Coke)

Or make a phrase that you can easily remember:

IWant14XtraVacationDaysAfterEaster
YesINEED3cupsofcoffeeEVERYsingleday

..don't forget to insert at least one word in your local dialect.

Os use http://xkcd.com/936/

Unfortunately all of those things are easily crackable by current attack algorithms.


Common misconceptions with password security:

* concatenating words together is more secure == false. Modern attacks use a dictionary of words and tries combinations of such words concatenated.

* using txt spk / l33t style words are harder to crack than common words == false. Modern dictionaries have every imaginable combination of number and non-alpha/numeric substitutions of letters as well as plain English words.

* using non-English words are more secure == false. Dictionaries include words from most languages, proper-nouns and even slang that isn't technically part of any language.


Password cracking has come a long way in the last few years and current security advice hasn't kept up with development. In my opinion there's only 3 things you can do to have a truly secure password:

1/ use a password hash. This will be a mixture of alpha, numerics and symbols. Generate this hash from any site like this: http://www.insidepro.com/hashes.php?lang=eng and have the website / application name as the salt and the same password as the password. This way you get a unique, non-guessable password for each service and an easy way for you to "keep" your passwords without having to write them down nor store them in any digital keychains.

2/ use a unique password for each service. I'd already mentioned that above, but it's so important it needs repeating.

3/ at all times possible, use key based systems (eg SSH keys instead of login passwords). Even just 2048bit RSA keys are significantly more difficult to crack than 99% of passwords. Sadly though, key based systems are rarely available for most systems.



Password security isn't difficult, however there's a lot of outdated advice that people still hold tight to.

Edited 2012-11-11 11:36 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: make 'm long
by kwan_e on Sun 11th Nov 2012 14:34 in reply to "RE: make 'm long"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

I'm ignorant on these matters, but I don't see how passphrases could feasibly be cracked using dictionary based attacks.

The number of possible words and alternate "spellings" is large, especially if you consider multiple languages as you've mentioned.

You also mentioned "without writing it down", but I was under the impression that was also out of date ideas about password protection. The chances of someone physically getting your password is practically zero, since most people won't risk it, most people aren't that important, and those who do risk stealing things generally aren't after written down passwords (assuming they know the username the person uses).

Edited 2012-11-11 14:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: make 'm long
by Fergy on Sun 11th Nov 2012 17:26 in reply to "RE: make 'm long"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

Common misconceptions with password security:

* concatenating words together is more secure == false. Modern attacks use a dictionary of words and tries combinations of such words concatenated.

* using txt spk / l33t style words are harder to crack than common words == false. Modern dictionaries have every imaginable combination of number and non-alpha/numeric substitutions of letters as well as plain English words.

* using non-English words are more secure == false. Dictionaries include words from most languages, proper-nouns and even slang that isn't technically part of any language.


Password cracking has come a long way in the last few years and current security advice hasn't kept up with development.

Use lower case: 26 possibilities
Use upper case: 26 possibilities
Use numbers: 10 possibilities
Use punctuation: 32 possibilites
Use them all: 94 possibilities per character

Using English is the easiest way to fall victim to dictionary attacks. Put in another language and suddenly the cracker would have to include 20+ dictionaries. Put in a dialect and the cracker would need to put 2000+ dictionaries in.

How can you possibly claim that increasing the possibilities is _not_ more secure?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: make 'm long
by Soulbender on Mon 12th Nov 2012 02:11 in reply to "RE: make 'm long"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

4. Use one-time pads. Impossible to break with brute-force attacks.

Reply Parent Score: 2