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» Enterprise IT Planet » Security » Security Features

AntiOnline Spotlight: Anatomy of a Strong Password

By Enterprise IT Planet Staff
October 21, 2005

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This holiday season promises to be another banner year for online retailers. Banks will also see an uptick in activity as consumers shift money between accounts to cover purchases and finance their travels to go see loved ones.

stock photography
During this time, the Internet will be flowing with digital wealth. You didn't think scammers would pass that up and show a little good will towards men, did you?

The average net-savvy individual has at least a handful of web-based accounts covering a wide range of services including banking and investments, email, auctions and shopping. The sort of stuff that used to require you to jump in the car and drive around town to do is just a few clicks and a couple of keystrokes away.

Unfortunately, lax password practices can undermine the integrity of those valuable keystrokes. And criminals are counting on it.

For their part, online businesses are shoring up their defenses (varying degrees of success some would say). As responsible citizens, why undermine those protections with weak passwords?

Until all computers ship with iris scanners, voice analyzers and fingerprint readers (some ThinkPads have an edge with the latter), the user/password combo is going to be the major authentication scheme for some time to come. Basically, you have to work with what you've got.

Luckily, with 26 letters (times 2 when you take into account capitals and lower-case), ten numerals, varying lengths and a healthy smattering of special characters, anyone can craft some tough-to-crack passwords.

This week, we examine passwords, the methods you can employ to strengthen the keys to your online kingdom (and your PC too) and how to keep them safe.

Note: Any opinions expressed below are solely those of the individual posters on the AntiOnline forums.

Spotlight Threads:
Password Strength Program
Creating Good Passwords

In the Password Strength Program thread, jbclarkman alerts the board to a handy password strength checker on MSN and wonders how to integrate such functionality during the Windows log-in procedure.

If you sign up for an MSN account they have this nifty little progress bar that tells you how strong your password is.

I'm operating in a W2k and W2k3 AD environment and I'm looking for a program that would do the same thing.

Yet more cool links and advice as the thread gains steam...

...guess I could integrate this: http://www.greyware.com/software/dompass/ with http://thoughtlabs.net/andrew/tipsa...-indicator.html

Over at the Creating Good Passwords Tutorial, cabby80 explains the virtues of a strong password.

Constructing a 'good' password is a very important part of ensuring data and network security. If a malicious user can get hold or 'crack' your password they can access the system with your identity and with your access rights.

A 'good' password is one that is:

1) Difficult for malicious users to guess - easy passwords to guess include dictionary words, usernames and passwords that don't contain a mixture of character types.

2) Easy for you to remember - usually something you can relate to and remember that you don't need to write down.

Many people think of these as mutually exclusive, however passwords can be both complex and quite easy to remember. Below I will show some methods that you can use for constructing complex, easy to remember passwords.

Some tips await those that click here.

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