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Change that Password One More Time
A new study by Trustwave, the PCI compliance testing folks, has discovered that easy passwords are still a huge problem despite warnings from IT staff about internet security. Worse still, even short but complex passwords are also easily cracked because today's processors can throw 17.3 billion calculations per second at the problem. Their test comprised of trying to crack over 600,000 passwords they harvested during two years of penetration testing. They were successful in cracking 92% of those passwords within 31 days. So the question becomes, "Okay, then... what makes a good password?" What was it about the 8% that made them safe?
First of all, weak or default passwords are still widely used. Amazingly, a third of the passwords tested were weak or default passwords. If you add to that a test against last year's list of most widely used passwords, you can grab over half. The most common password was,Password1,with,Hello123, password,,Welcome1, banco@1, Training, Password123,and,job12345,not far behind. But those of you who think you're safe with something like,N^a&$1nG,shouldn't get too smug. Because it's only 8 characters, a password like this one took less than 4 days to crack using nothing more than a $2700 computer built for the purpose. As it turns out, the best passwords to protect against cracking attacks are long ones. A password such as,GoodLuckGuessingThisPassword,would take 17 years to crack, so when you need a secure password for any purpose, consider a nice long phrase you can easily remember. It will make your life easier and give the bad guys a headache at the same time.
And a note to IT staff... Don't require your users to change their passwords on a regular basis. It turns out that people will create easier and easier passwords the more times they need to change them.
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