Everything We've Been Told About Online Passwords Is Wrong

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Websites have a multitude of password requirements: some require passwords with upper and lower case letters, while others ask for non-alphanumeric characters such as question marks and percentage signs.

It advised using capital letters, numbers and non-alphabetic symbols in passwords, in the belief that they would be more hard to uncover. On Tuesday, its original creator, Bill Burr, confessed he regretted much of what he had done.

He was working for the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2003 when he wrote his password advice issued by the non-regulatory U.S. agency. Burr suggested the numbers-letters-special character combo in an eight-page manifesto titled "NIST Special Publication 800-63". People are now being advised to use long but easy-to-remember 'passphrases, ' that does not necessarily feature special characters or numbers.

"Much of what I did I now regret", Mr Burr, who is now retired, told the "Wall Street Journal".

Password decryption easiness is a significant factor in cyber security schemes nowadays, many of which don't even have to resort to software to make the right guesses.

Burr's original guidelines were published almost 15 years ago, when he worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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As an extra security precaution you might be forced to change your password every month, but of course it's too hard to remember an entirely new password so we simply cycle through from "p@ssw0rd1" to "p@ssw0rd12" throughout the year. "Appendix A", and recommended users change their info every 90 days.

For example, something like "Pa55word!" follows Burr's guidelines but isn't very secure and is very easy to guess. Ultimately, Burr had to go with a white paper written in the 1980s.

Burr said the guidelines first published in 2003 ultimately led people to create passwords that could easily be cracked by hackers, such as Password123!

He added: "It just drives people bananas and they don't pick good passwords no matter what you do".

"We ended up starting from scratch", said Paul Grassi, a standards and tech adiser at NIST. "Puffineatingbanana" is easy to remember but would take millions of years for a computer to crack".

The new guidelines will call for longer phrases with memorable words strung together.

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