That said, also consider the risk associated with sticky notes on monitors. Are walkthroughs conducted periodically to make sure classified data (such as a password) isn't left on a desk? Are there any awareness programs to educate the employees about social engineering threats?
Only the company can answer the question of how complex passwords should be, and the first step is to make sure there is a documented password management policy. The information security group should come up with one soon. The questions I asked above should be a good start to determine what that policy should be. But generally speaking, a password policy should minimally consist of the following key controls:
- Minimum password length.
- Specific character content, such as upper and lower case, numerals or special characters.
- A time-table for changing passwords.
- The number of times a bad password can be input before the account is locked by the system.
- The number of iterations before a user can reuse a password, which prevents users from alternating back and forth between two passwords.
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This was first published in May 2009