Password Constraints

You’re probably familiar with some of the most common requirements for creating passwords. A mix of upper and lowercase letters is a simple example. These are known as password constraints. To start, let’s look at the impact of an eight-character length constraint alone. There are 95^8 possible combinations of 8 characters.

Just by requiring both uppercase and lowercase letters, more than 15 percent of all possible 8-character combinations have been eliminated as possible passwords. This means that 1QV5#T&| cannot be a password because there are no lowercase letters. Compared to Darnrats,which meets the constraint requirements, 1QV5#T&| is a fantastic password.

As constraints pile up, possibilities shrink

Are you required to use a password that is at least eight characters long, has lower and uppercase letters, number and symbols? Just requiring a number to be part of a password removes over 40 percent of 8-character combinations from the pool of possible passwords. Even though you can use lowercase and uppercase letters, and you can use symbols, if one of the characters in your password must be a number then there are far fewer great passwords that you can use.

Long and simple is better than short and hard

People tend to be very predictable. There are more symbols (than there are in any other characters set. Theoretically that means that symbols are going to do the most to make a password strong, but 80 percent of the time it is going to be one of the top five most frequently used symbols, and 95 percent of the time is will be one of the top 10 most frequently used symbols.

The above are a few extracts from Password Constraints and Their Unintended Security Consequences.

Read the full – EXCELLENT – article here.