Do you hate being forced to change your passwords on a regular basis, even though there’s no need to do so? I do. If nothing else, it forces me to use passwords that are easier to remember–and thus more easier to crack. And having to remember the last name of your second grade teacher when you graduated from second grade forty years ago seemed like a good idea at the time, but…
Favor the user. To begin with, make your password policies user friendly and put the burden on the verifier when possible.
In other words, we need to stop asking users to do things that aren’t actually improving security….
Size matters. At least it does when it comes to passwords. NIST’s new guidelines say you need a minimum of 8 characters. (That’s not a maximum minimum – you can increase the minimum password length for more sensitive accounts.)
Better yet, NIST says you should allow a maximum length of at least 64, so no more “Sorry, your password can’t be longer than 16 characters.”
Applications must allow all printable ASCII characters, including spaces, and should accept all UNICODE characters, too, including emoji!
…Check new passwords against a dictionary of known-bad choices. You don’t want to let people use ChangeMe, thisisapassword, yankees, and so on.
Makes sense. But this is the part I loved:
No composition rules. What this means is, no more rules that force you to use particular characters or combinations, like those daunting conditions on some password reset pages that say, “Your password must contain one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, one number, four symbols but not &%#@_, and the surname of at least one astronaut.”
Let people choose freely, and encourage longer phrases instead of hard-to-remember passwords or illusory complexity such as pA55w+rd.
No password hints. None. If I wanted people have a better chance at guessing my password, I’d write it on a note attached to my screen.
People set password hints like rhymes with assword when you allow hints….
Knowledge-based authentication (KBA) is out. KBA is when a site says, “Pick from a list of questions – Where did you attend high school? What’s your favourite football team? – and tell us the answer in case we ever need to check that it’s you.”
No more expiration without reason. This is my favourite piece of advice: If we want users to comply and choose long, hard-to-guess passwords, we shouldn’t make them change those passwords unnecessarily.
The only time passwords should be reset is when they are forgotten, if they have been phished, or if you think (or know) that your password database has been stolen and could therefore be subjected to an offline brute-force attack.
Not only are these more practical, but they are represent a very small step backwards from our Security Ninny State.
Hopefully, NIST finalizes these draft proposals soon.