Password Strategy Part 2

password1In our last article we recommended a publication from the GCHQ on passwords, and today we continue that discussion.  Many of the recommendations are suggestions we have covered before in previous posts, but the importance of having secure password procedures can not be overstated.

Change all default passwords

All of our network connected devices come “ready to go” right out of the box in most cases.  For plug and play to work, the devices need to be preconfigured with an administrative user ID (usually “admin”) and a password (in many cases, “password”). This includes most wireless access points, and things like baby monitors, and smart appliances.  Lists of devices and default crednetials can be easily located on the web.  Just type in “default password list” and see what you get.  So when you set up your device, take the extra step to change the defaults, otherwise you may have some stranger take over your baby monitor.  Yeah, that really happens.

Good password policy for humans

Using a password manager such as LastPass or KeePass is one of the recommendations, and since I have started using LastPass, I have to concur.  Just understand that if your master password is compromised, the whole collection is compromised.

Regular changing of passwords actually tends to reduce security rather than improve it, as users go to easier to remember models.  If this is a rule in your organization, you may just want to abandon it.  You will be thanked by a grateful user group.  And only use passwords where you really need them, or consider using a single sign-on solution to reduce password fatigue.

On the other hand, sharing passwords among more than one user just negates the value of using a password in the first place.

Since people will tend to use simpler password strategies to help make their passwords easier to remember, it is important to use password monitoring solutions and password lockout procedures to protect against guessing and brute-force attacks by unauthorized persons or password-cracking machines.

Another recommendation is the use of password strength measuring services such as OWASP’s Passfault Analyzer. On the other hand, use of random password generation software is discouraged due to the difficulty that people have remembering these random strings, and the fact that these passwords get written down and stored insecurely.

In our next article we will wrap up our series on password strategy.

More information:

Password Guidance: Simplifying Your Approach.


About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Serving small business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area since 2001. Cybersecurity and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. I hold several cybersecurity certifications including Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Advanced Security Pratitioner (CASP), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). Other computer industry certifications include A+, Network+ and Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of security on their computers, networks, and websites. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. I am a frequent speakers at cybersecurity conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference, the (ISC)2 World Congress, and the ISSA International Conference, and many local community organizations, Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2008.

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