Risks Of Passwords At The Time With A Little Commentary Essay

Risks Of Passwords At The Time With A Little Commentary Essay

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Neumann, P. G. (1994). Risks of passwords. Communications Of The ACM, 37(4), 126. doi:10.1145/175276.175289

This is a brief qualitative analysis of all the risks associated with passwords. It lists the common failure mode of passwords at the time with a little commentary on each. The types are exhaustive attacks, educated guess, derivation, capturing unencrypted passwords, trapdoors, bogus password creation, bypassing authentication, and non-atomic password checking. The author’s opinion is that most password management techniques are only successful at dealing with the first three attack modes. However, he also notes that the first attack has been rendered relatively benign due to limiting the attempts to enter a password.
This is a fascinating little article where the author takes the opinion that reusable passwords are not safe but it is due to the technology inherent in deploying as opposed to the more standard belief that it is because users are inherently unsafe. Since it is so short, the language is necessarily crisp, short, and to the point. While the author is not alone in advocating the replacement of passwords with other technologies (smart cards or one-time authenticators), he is not common in that he focuses on the technological shortcomings of passwords. While perhaps ignoring the economic advantages of password implementation and the user experience, this is still a worthwhile article to explore a not often held viewpoint.





Summers, N. (2009). Building a better password. Newsweek, 154(16), E2-E9

This first thing to note is that this is not a peer-reviewed article. Still, it is included in the background research because of its fresh take on the password phenomena. The article primarily revolves ...


... middle of paper ...


...15 minutes to do this. He then contrasted that with such sites as Amazon which have very lax password management policies.
The main point the author is driving at is that there are usually good reasons why things occur. Sites like Amazon have lax password policies because if they made it as difficult as the first example, their customers would flee them in droves. Government agencies, though, do not have that as a concern. In that absence, security becomes the overriding concern. Specialists then begin to implement more and more security procedures because there is no user feedback. This explains much of the research done on passwords as the people who do the research are very well aware of the ramifications of a security breach, such as losing their jobs as well as data loss, while being insulated from the consequences of a system that is almost unusable.


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