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9/16/2014
12:15 PM
Sara Peters
Sara Peters
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DR Radio: A Grown-Up Conversation About Passwords

Cormac Herley of Microsoft Research will challenge everything you think you know about password management.

We all know the rules. At least eight characters; combination of lowercase, uppercase, numerals, and special characters; different for every account; changed periodically; and never stored in plain text anywhere, not even on a Post-it note. Those are the golden rules for password management we all know, advise, and (probably) follow... but maybe we're wrong.

Over the past few months, the public has been hammered with data breaches, including those that exposed passwords. Security experts have been thrust into the public eye, in newspapers and on television, urging, begging, and warning users to improve their password practices. Yet Cormac Herley, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, says that it's time to stop putting all the responsibility on end users -- time to stop the blaming and shaming. Not only is following the rules too difficult, says Herley, but it isn't even worth the effort.

Herley's recent work on passwords, with Dinei Florencio and Paul C. van Oorschot, includes statements like "a [password] portfolio strategy ruling out weak passwords or password re-use is sub-optimal," and if the IT department doesn't do its job well, "there is no attack scenario where the [user's] extra effort protects the account."

Sound crazy? Want to know how they came to those conclusions? Then don't miss the next episode of Dark Reading Radio, "A Grown-Up Conversation About Passwords," tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 am PT, with our guest, Cormac Herley.

Have questions you want us to ask? Let us know in the comments below. If we can't get to those questions during the audio interview, never fear -- you'll have the chance to ask him questions yourself, during the live chat session happening alongside the broadcast.

Don't miss this chance to challenge all your assumptions about password management. Register now.

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio
 

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HAnatomi
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HAnatomi,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2014 | 8:51:12 PM
Re: Not only texts but also images
I wonderif you will have a look at the document posted by a Japanese company Mnemonic Security at

 " mneme.blog.eonet.jp/default/files/outline_of_mnemonic_security.pdf "  Add h t t p / /

and a blogsite

 " mnemonicguard.blogspot.jp/ " Add h t t p / /

 that I am following.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
9/19/2014 | 9:51:26 AM
Re: Not only texts but also images
HAnatomi -- What would be an example of a known versus unkown image? and how would that work as an authentication factor?
HAnatomi
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HAnatomi,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2014 | 3:19:29 AM
Re: Not only texts but also images
It is perhaps impossible for anyone to remember 100 UNKNOWN images afresh.  The images to be used for passwords should be the KNOWN images of our episodic/autobiographic images, which are said to be the least vulerable to the cognitive phenomenon named "interference of memory".

 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
9/18/2014 | 9:58:50 AM
Re: Not only texts but also images
That's intereting about images. But is the human brain capable of remembering 100 images, one unique authenticator for each app or web site? Or won't that be necessary with images?
HAnatomi
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HAnatomi,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/18/2014 | 1:31:34 AM
Not only texts but also images
At the root of the password problem is the cognitive phenomena called "interference of memory", by which we cannot firmly remember more than 5 text passwords on average.  What worries us is not the password, but the textual password.  The textual memory is only a small part of what we remember.  We could think of making use of the larger part of our memory that is less subject to interference of memory.  More attention could be paid to the efforts of expanding the password system to include images, particularly KNOWN images, as well as conventional texts.

 

Most of the humans are thousands times better at dealing with image memories than text memories. The former dates back to hundreds of millions of years ago while the latter's history is less than a fraction of it.I wonder what merits we have in confining ourselves in the narrow corridor of text memories when CPUs are fast enough, bandwidth broad enough, memory storage cheap enough, and cameras built in mobile devices.
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
9/17/2014 | 3:15:04 PM
Re: No shortage of opinions on this topic!
Really great interview and discussion with Cormac, Sara. His provocative perspective on passwords really generated some great discussion and debate. And of course, there's no good answer for authentication. =)
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 3:54:56 PM
No shortage of opinions on this topic!
This should be lively discussion, Sara. Everyone has an opinion on passwords - and we've had our share of them on Dark Reading! Andrey Dulkin of CyberArk Research Labs weighed in in July on "Weak Password Advice From Microsoft" (http://www.darkreading.com/operations/identity-and-access-management/weak-password-advice-from-microsoft/a/d-id/1297592) and today,  Corey Nachreiner, of WatchGuard Technologies, gave a qualified "Defense of Passwords" -- as long as you use them correctly along with something else (http://www.darkreading.com/operations/in-defense-of-passwords/a/d-id/1315719?). 

Let the debate begin! 
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