Password expert says he was wrong: Numbers, capital letters and symbols are
By Ashley May
USA TODAY Cybersecurity experts say certain password rules are ineffective.
Here is some of the latest advice on setting and resetting them. Time The
man who said use capital letters, special characters and numbers in your
password is now taking back that advice. (Photo: hanieriani, Getty
Images/iStockphoto) The man behind the 2003 report responsible for many
current password guidelines says the advice is wrong. Bill Burr, the author
of an 8-page publication released by the National Institute of Standards and
Technology, told The Wall Street Journal his previous advice of creating
passwords with special characters, mixed-case letters and numbers won't
deter hackers. In fact, he told the journal,'the paper wasn't based on any
real-world password data, but rather a paper written in the 1980s. 'Much of
what I did I now regret,' Burr told The Wall Street Journal . The problem is
that federal agencies, businesses and institutions took the paper
seriously'very seriously. The report turned into password protocol. Today,
even though Burr's report was updated in June, we are still prompted to
change our password every 90 days using at least one capital letter, symbol
and number. These combinations aren't secure,'mainly because people choose
predictable combinations. The advice about frequently changing a password
has been criticized since the report. A 2010 study by the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that updating passwords often can
actually help hackers identify a pattern. Another study from Carleton
University said frequent changes are more inconvenient than helpful. The
better solution could be to simply use a password with four random words,
because the number of letters can be more difficult to hack than a small
combination of letters and special characters, the Journal reports. Finally,
a good reason to ignore those password prompts and come up with one we can
actually remember. Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets
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