Mavericks Blogs

Understanding the New NIST Guidelines for Password Security

Understanding the New NIST Guidelines for Password Security

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has released Special Publication 800-63B, titled Digital Identity Guidelines. The document outlines major changes to the ways password security should be approached and leaves a lot of what network administrators and software developers have implemented recently to be wrong Today, we’ll take a look at the publication, and try to make sense of the sudden change of course.

NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency that works under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its mission is to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness by advancing a uniform measurement standard. Many NIST guidelines become the foundation for best practices in data security. As a result, any publication they produce having to do with cyber or network security should be considered.

A Look at SP 800-63B
The newest password guidelines are a swift about-face in strategy as compared to previous NIST suggestions. Instead of a strategy of ensuring that all passwords meet some type of arbitrary complexity requirements, the new strategy is to create passwords that are easier and more intuitive. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Passwords should be compared to dictionaries and commonly-used passwords
  • Eliminate or reduce complexity rules for passwords
  • All printable characters allowed, including spaces
  • Expiration of passwords no longer based on time password has been in use
  • Maximum length increased to 64 characters.

Basically, the new guidelines recommend longer passphrases to the complex passwords as they are hard for people to remember, and even with complexity rules in place, it was becoming increasingly easy for algorithms to crack passwords (seen in the comic strip below).

ib nist cartoon 1

As stated before, NIST is not a regulatory organization, but federal agencies and contractors use NIST’s information in order to set up secure computing environments in which to display, store, and share sensitive unclassified information.

In making these changes to password strategy, NIST is now considering the fact that many industry professionals knew: a password you can’t remember may be secure, but if it’s so secure that you have to rely on third-party software to utilize it, it’s not really that effective at mitigating risk. NIST now looks at the passphrase strategy, along with two-factor authentication as the go-to risk management strategy. SMS-based two-factor authentication was not mentioned in the final report but has come under scrutiny as it has contributed to multiple hacks in recent times.

The NIST also explicitly commands that network administrators be mindful to forbid commonly used passwords; effectively creating a blacklist of passwords. The new guidelines also suggest that users shouldn’t be using the password hints or knowledge-based authentication options; a common practice among banking and FinTech applications to this day. We’ll see if there is a strategic alteration in these companies’ practices as the new NIST guidelines become best practices.

If you are looking for more information about best password practices and data security, the IT experts at Mavericks are here to help. Call us today at (440) 305-5514 to have your password strategy assessed by the professionals.

Comic by XKCD.



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Friday, September 21 2018

Captcha Image

Mobile? Grab this Article!


Tag Cloud

Tip of the Week Security Technology Best Practices Tech Term Privacy Email Innovation Network Security Internet Internet of Things Data Data recovery Cloud Malware Cloud Computing Business Computing Applications Data Backup Artificial Intelligence Mobile Devices Saving Money Connectivity Hardware Android Smartphones Network IT Services Google Hosted Solutions Smartphone Workplace Tips User Tips BDR Backup Data Protection Windows VoIp Small Business Outsourced IT Hackers Communications Comparison Two-factor Authentication Vulnerability Managed IT services Virtual Assistant Password Facebook Passwords Identity Theft Cybercrime Save Money Business Intelligence CES Microsoft Information Business Management Encryption Content Management Gadgets Windows 10 Router Managed Service Browser Paperless Office VPN Money Social Engineering Blockchain Sports How To Infrastructure Communication IT Support Computers Miscellaneous Remote Worker Big Data Data Security Managed IT Enterprise Content Management Evernote HIPAA Practices Smart Office Digital Signature Servers Amazon Accountants Upgrade Millennials MSP Authentication Machine Learning Telephone Systems data-driven marketplace Charger Business Staff IT Management Wiring Business Mangement BYOD Law Enforcement Password Management Specifications Electronic Medical Records Word PDF Devices HVAC Amazon Web Services Windows 7 Workforce File Sharing Server top-line performance Website Wireless Charging Employer-Employee Relationship Virtualization Telecommuting Firewall Mobile Device Management NIST Remote Monitoring Hosted Computing Office 365 Social Media Password Manager Update Collaboration Holiday Phishing Cybersecurity USB Bandwidth YouTube Credit Cards Legal business intelligence Cache Telephone System Chrome Workers Document Management Remote Work Unified Threat Management Gmail Efficiency Cryptocurrency Data Management Inventory Augmented Reality Thought Leadership Computer Online Shopping Ransomware Productivity Wire Nanotechnology Bring Your Own Device Fraud Criminal organizations need Alert Mobile Device Settings Recycling Addiction Safe Mode Keyboard Microsoft Office Cortana Human Resources Training Apps Automation Networking OneNote Cleaning Software Smart Tech Wireless Internet Work/Life Balance Managed IT Services Access Control Entertainment Mobile Computing eWaste Disaster Recovery Systems Organizations today Disaster Recovery Google Apps IT Plan Quick Tips Compliance Thank You Regulation Congratulations Camera Twitter Company Culture Printers Managing Stress