60 percent of user passwords are less than 5 characters long
The Atlantic journalist Mat Honan’s story of his email account take-over and that of James Fallow’s wife’s ordeal with a compromised account last year, both came to the same conclusion – simple password protection is not enough. Cloud-based systems, even of what might be considered “just” personal email should be protected with two-factor authentication.
We’ve been talking about this for several years. And even longer ago, in 1979, Bell Labs cryptologist Robert Morris and computer scientist Ken Thompson, said: “Human beings being what they are, there is a strong tendency for people to choose relatively short and simple passwords that they can remember. Given free choice, most people will choose their passwords from a restricted character set (e.g. all lower-case letters), and will often choose words or names.” They found that 60 percent of user passwords were less than 5 characters long , and overall, 86 percent relied on dictionaries or name lists to create them. Morris and Thompson concluded, “the results were disappointing, except to the bad guy.”
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