Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

9/22/2009
08:25 PM
50%
50%

The Search For A Perfect Corporate Password Policy

What qualifies as a safe and sane password policy for your business? A recent blog post serves up some interesting answers to this question.

What qualifies as a safe and sane password policy for your business? A recent blog post serves up some interesting answers to this question.This week, blogger Paul Rubens raises a very relevant security issue: Does size matter when it comes to choosing a password or enforcing a corporate password policy. The answer, of course, is yes -- but as Rubens points out, an obsession with "tough" passwords may simply provide a band-aid that conceals other, potentially more serious, security issues: A healthy dose of realism is clearly in order. "A lot of guidance about password length and complexity is just a sticking plaster over an underlying problem with passwords," says Dr Ant Allan, a research vice president at Gartner. "It's important to remember that if you increase length or complexity you are only defending against some kinds of attacks anyway," he says. "If the end user's machine is infected with spyware then the password will still be discovered, regardless. And a long password does nothing to prevent a hacker getting a password using social engineering. These types of policies are beloved of auditors, trotting out established ideas." Rubens also notes that other common password security measures are far less effective than they seem to be. Policies that require users to change their passwords every few months are a great example: While this does not give an attacker nearly enough time to crack a strong password using brute-force methods, it provides way too much time for an attacker that gets a password using other means (such as spyware or a social-engineering hack) to run amok on a company's systems.

And what about those invulnerable monster passwords? The certainly are hard to crack: According to Rubens, a 15-character password could take up to two trillion years to crack, using existing mainstream computing technology. On the other hand, long passwords encourage users who lack a photographic memory to cut corners; I recall one example involving a former co-worker who kept his laptop password written down on a piece of paper -- and who like to keep this reminder not-so-safely tucked away in his laptop carrying case!

If that sounds like a familiar problem, be sure to check out Rubens' next blog entry, where he discusses an important way to balance password security and usability: password management tools.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Stop Defending Everything
Kevin Kurzawa, Senior Information Security Auditor,  2/12/2020
Small Business Security: 5 Tips on How and Where to Start
Mike Puglia, Chief Strategy Officer at Kaseya,  2/13/2020
5 Common Errors That Allow Attackers to Go Undetected
Matt Middleton-Leal, General Manager and Chief Security Strategist, Netwrix,  2/12/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20477
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
PyYAML 5.1 through 5.1.2 has insufficient restrictions on the load and load_all functions because of a class deserialization issue, e.g., Popen is a class in the subprocess module. NOTE: this issue exists because of an incomplete fix for CVE-2017-18342.
CVE-2019-20478
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
In ruamel.yaml through 0.16.7, the load method allows remote code execution if the application calls this method with an untrusted argument. In other words, this issue affects developers who are unaware of the need to use methods such as safe_load in these use cases.
CVE-2011-2054
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
A vulnerability in the Cisco ASA that could allow a remote attacker to successfully authenticate using the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client if the Secondary Authentication type is LDAP and the password is left blank, providing the primary credentials are correct. The vulnerabilities is due to improper in...
CVE-2015-0749
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
A vulnerability in Cisco Unified Communications Manager could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to conduct a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack on the affected software. The vulnerabilities is due to improper input validation of certain parameters passed to the affected software. An attacker ...
CVE-2015-9543
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
An issue was discovered in OpenStack Nova before 18.2.4, 19.x before 19.1.0, and 20.x before 20.1.0. It can leak consoleauth tokens into log files. An attacker with read access to the service's logs may obtain tokens used for console access. All Nova setups using novncproxy are affected. This is rel...