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Weak Password Advice From Microsoft
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Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 3:57:22 PM
password mess
I feel like a broken record, always preaching to family and friends the importance of not reusing passwords, creating strong passwords, etc. But the reality is most users continue those bad habits because it's inconvenient and time-consuming to do the right thing. Sure, there are password managers, but not everyone wants to go there. We need to get away from passwords altogether. Scan my eyeball, already.
Andrey Dulkin
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Andrey Dulkin,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/29/2014 | 2:08:50 PM
Re: password mess
Unfortunately, we won't be able to get rid of passwords until a more secure and at least as user-friendly authentication mechanism is available. Even then, we'll still have all the legacy systems that do not support any other authentication method. Thus, we have to make password authentication as secure as possible, which can be done by engaging all 3 involved parties - the service providers, the organizations and the users. The service providers should employ secure salted hashing schemes, that will make it more difficult for attackers to get to the actual passwords. The organizations should employ automated systems to secure the credentials for their sensitive assets, instead of relying on the users to come up with unique and complex passwords. And the users should be educated about the dangers of password re-use and identity theft, and try to adhere to best practices (and yes, this is probably the weakest link of the scheme...) This approach will make it more difficult for attackers to actually take advantage of their attacks' spoils.
DarkReadingTim
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DarkReadingTim,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 1:14:48 AM
Re: password mess
What's surprising is how often shared passwords are part of company processes -- the user doesn't even have a chance to make a safe choice. There ought to be a way to flag shared passwords to IT or upper management, just as users are flagged when their passwords are unsafe.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 8:41:48 AM
Re: password mess
Or create some kind of SSO or security vault where employees can create individual passwords for the various enterprise apps they use which are then stored in a safe place, and accessed by the password managaer app for authentication. 
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 10:11:22 AM
Re: password mess
I still say biometrics all the way.

Passwords are a nightmare.
TGUT
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TGUT,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/4/2014 | 4:18:27 PM
Re: password mess
I disagree (partially). I think using weak(ish)/throwaway passwords for non-critical sites is perfectly acceptable. The key, as was pointed out, is properly identifying what is a critical site and also how weak is acceptable.

For example, I must have a login to Dark Reading just to comment here. However, I really couldn't care less if someone gets a hold of this account as it does not tie to anything critical, provide personal information, or provide a launching point for phishing attacks on my friends, family, or coworkers.

This is a prime candidate for a weak(ish) password that I could use for all such accounts. I'm not advocating password1 or anything, but using Rhom,bo1d or something equally simple saves precious brain power for the critical 20+ character unique passwords I use elsewhere.

I prefer to keep all my passwords in my head and dislike the concept of password managers for a number of reasons.

1. If it's a local-only password manager, I can't login from somewhere other than my own computer. That's called willing denial of service in my book.

2. If it's an online password manager, several password managers have had major security holes putting all your accounts at risk from a single breach.

There are a couple more reasons for my dislike of password managers, but those are the basics.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
8/4/2014 | 4:29:11 PM
Re: password mess
TGUT your brain is much smarter than mine to be able to keepall your passwords straight -- even the simples ones! 

 
cwatters432
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cwatters432,
User Rank: Guru
9/17/2014 | 11:28:16 AM
Re: password mess
You can change passwords. You can use 2nd factor authentication when its supported. You can't easily change your fingerprints and/or irises.  If you RELY on biometrics, once your information is compromised you better be willing to undergo some serious surgery.

I use a passwordcard (easily found on the web), and only have to remember the starting row/column for the password.  On sites which permit password hints, that is all the info I need.  Only I know if I'm parsing UP/DOWN/Left/Diagonal,Knightwise, etc.  And I know how many characters I'm using - more than 8, less than 50.

I've used the same process when sending secured data to someone who does not have a valid PGP key on my keychain.  Share a passwordcard with them, email the starting location and pattern, and encrypt the 7Z using that password. Cumbersome, but unfortunately easy security is easily defeated.

 

 

 
AlkaG040
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AlkaG040,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/29/2014 | 8:38:03 AM
Single Sign-on as a solution for passwords
I would say instead of using weak passwords at all, use a Single Sign-on solution to access all your accounts from one dashboard so that you only have to remember one set of credentials instead of many and that's to your SSO provider account.

I personally use Smartsignin by PerfectCloud and I can sign into all my accounts without having to remember my Strong passwords or storing them anywhere - Cloud/System. The best thing is, they don't store my credentials anywhere.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
7/29/2014 | 9:55:51 AM
Important to whom?
Your point is well-taken Andrey that in terms of risk the calculus of "important" versus "unimportant" is not a simple matter. For the typical user, it's obvious that you will want to protect your credit cards, online banking and financial activities, etc.  with strong passwords. But for more frivolous social activities like FB, Pinterest, etc, the message --- that these sites are gold-mines for hackers -- has not been driven home at all. 
Andrey Dulkin
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Andrey Dulkin,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/29/2014 | 2:20:41 PM
Re: Important to whom?
I agree and would like to highlight another point - while there has been a lot of focus over the last few years on credit card details theft, there wasn't as much discussion of identity thefts. With credit cards, it has become a routine: CC data stolen->the company involved offers credit monitoring services->some people choose to replace their cards, for some the issuers replace them, for most the cards remain active->life goes on. But with identity thefts, people can't simply replace their personal data - their mother's maiden name, the school they went to, their SSN, their government-issued ID and so on. And once these details are out there, one can never know neither who will use them, nor when or for what purpose.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
7/29/2014 | 2:52:57 PM
Re: Important to whom?
Yes, indeed! The PII that is floating around cyberspace is going to be a huge problem (if it isn't already!) We ran a blog on that very topic a few months back that made a very good case about that in What's Worse: Credit Card Or Identity Theft?

 

HAnatomi
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HAnatomi,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/9/2014 | 4:07:40 AM
The textual memory is just a minor part of our overall memories
Being a strong password helps a lot against the attack of getting the stolen hashed passwords back to the original passwords.  The problem is that few of us can firmly remember many such strong passwords.

 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.
Andrey Dulkin
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Andrey Dulkin,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/14/2014 | 4:39:18 AM
Re: The textual memory is just a minor part of our overall memories
HAnatomi - That's a good point, I think both Microsoft and Facebook have tried this to some extent. My suggestion to ease the "memory requirements" is to employ, for some sites, the same fixed password, but add some letters from the target service name (for example, "dark" for DarkReading), or even the entire target service name, to the fixed part. This way, we can avoid password reuse, without the trouble of remembering many strong passwords. 
HAnatomi
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HAnatomi,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/15/2014 | 3:38:27 AM
Re: The textual memory is just a minor part of our overall memories
Hi Andrey, I have heard of such ideas many times, which means criminals must be well aware of it.  It shoud be noted that simple ones might well have been incorporated in the attackers' dictionaries.  If complicated enough to avoid such dictionary attacks, we might well be trapped in the holes that we dug as I myself experienced.  Your idea could be recommended to the people who are proud of the vert bright brains, not to most of us.
boweaver
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boweaver,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/13/2014 | 11:02:06 AM
Easy Passwords
As someone that pen tests for a living I say YES! PLEASE! use easy passwords it makes my job so much easier.

 

Truth:

I couldn't believe it when I read this story.  You wouldn't believe how many networks I have cracked that used common passwords on user accounts and then escalated from their.

Your better off using something even a sentence that is long like "My dog has fleas."  This is 17 chars long and would be hard to crack under a normal brute force attack and it isn't on any common password list.


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