Passphrases: The New Form of Password

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The evolution of the password is undergoing a new change as passphrases are introduced to provide better security to users.
Passwords have been a common method to protect a user’s personal and business-based data and information.  Despite their ability to restrict access to data, the creation and maintenance of, at times, multiple passwords can be a frustrating exercise.
With hackers and other external threats becoming more sophisticated, being able to protect your data is a number one priority.
As a result, users are asked to create increasingly complex passwords with a collection of special characters and can be asked to change their passwords quite frequently, such as every 90 days.
 
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While this might provide protection for company data, it is increasingly frustrating to users.  Trying to remember complex passwords and having to change them on a regular basis can lead to confusion and create a larger cyber security problem than the ones a password is supposed to protect.
In response to this growing problem, passphrases have been introduced as a possible alternative.
Passphrases refer to 16 to 64 character phrases that are used to access data.  This chart illustrates the difference between a password and a passphrase.

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Passphrases use a less complex method of data protection by favouring longer sentences rather than special character combinations when designing their logins.

Its seemingly random nature and often special significance to the user makes passphrases easier to remember and harder to crack.  This helps reduce the risk of a cyber-attack as users do not need to resort to outside support for help logging into their accounts or to writing down their passwords which can be found by others.
Users who are thinking of adopting passphrases need to be mindful of their devices’ operating systems, either at work or at home.  For instance, the presence of legacy computers in a desktop environment makes the support of long phrases or words difficult.
 
For example, computers running Windows 95, 98, or Millennium Edition will only support 14 character passwords.
In comparison, computers that run Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 10 support the creation of 16+ character passwords.
To determine whether or not passphrases are a good fit for your company, it is wise to double-check the operating systems of your current desktop infrastructure and formulate your passwords policies and procedures accordingly.
Passphrases are an alternative, potentially safer, form of password that individuals or workers can use to access their confidential data.  With security a fundamental necessity for all businesses, making sure that any company passwords or passphrases are safe and secure is a must.
 
Courtney Rosebush is a Marketing and Sales Coordinator at Triella, a technology consulting firm specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Courtney can be reached at 647.426.1004 x 227. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.
© 2016 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.
 
References:

Frankel, Todd C., & Peterson, Andrea. (2016, August 11).  There’s a new way to make strong passwords, and it’s way easier.  The Washington Post.  Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/08/11/theres-a-new-way-to-make-strong-passwords-and-its-way-easier/
n.d. (2016).  Selecting Secure Passwords.  Microsoft.  Retrieved from https://msdn.microsoft.com/enus/library/cc875839.aspx

 

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