Nine Years Later, NIST Agrees With Dan!
For the sake of user comfort, new draft document calls for an end to mandatory password changes, and other requirements.
An article review.
Long-time readers may remember Dan’s Password Manifesto, originally published in the Hoosier Banker Magazine in 2008, where he spoke out against the “conventional wisdom” requiring frequent password changes, advocating instead other mitigating factors such as strong awareness training for employees. Dan believed frequent changes were a burden on employees (who often have to remember an ever-growing number of passwords) and offered little in the way of additional security.
Well, it took almost a decade to catch up but the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has agreed with Dan’s guidance in a recently released draft of new guidelines, which has met with approval from vendors.
The guidelines suggest doing away with required password changes altogether, citing the same concerns Dan had back in 2009: they often result in users choosing ‘easier’ passwords, and place a burden on the employees tasked with remembering them. Additionally, the NIST calls for the elimination of complexity requirements for the same reasons, going so far as to suggest allowing emoji passwords if that is what the employee wants!
What’s important for password security according to NIST is proper salting and hashing of password files to prevent offline attacks, along with checks to ensure users don’t use simple passwords such as dictionary words (also advocated against in Dan’s 2008 piece!), usernames and previously compromised passwords.
Despite the adoption of new authentication methods (which often fall back on passwords and PINs if there is a failure!) and articles heralding the “death of the password” we don’t see them becoming obsolete any time soon, so we welcome NIST’s new proposed guidelines as a way to make them easier to live with for everyone…Even if it took them the better part of a decade to catch up!
Original article by Ryan Francis, writing for Network World.