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Is a 15-Character Password Good Enough for Security?

    Is a 15 Character Password Good 1 - Softwarecosmos.com

    Passwords are a part of daily life. We use them for everything from email to banking to social media. With so much of our sensitive information stored online, having good password security is essential. But what exactly makes a password “good”? One of the most important factors is length. So, how long should your password be? Is a 15-character password considered good and strong? Or is it overkill?

    Why is Password Length Important?

    Password length is crucial for strength and security. Longer passwords are more resistant to hacking attempts and guessing. Short passwords are incredibly easy to crack. In fact, a password with only 6 characters could potentially be cracked in minutes.

    According to experts, the minimum length for a secure password is 12 characters. But 15 characters or more is ideal. Here’s why length matters so much:

    Preventing Brute Force Attacks

    One of the main ways hackers break into accounts is via brute force attacks. This method uses automated software to guess every possible password combination. The longer your password, the more combinations there are, making it exponentially harder for hackers.

    A 6-character password only has about 56 billion possible combinations. But a 15-character password has over 73 quadrillion combinations. That’s nearly impossible to brute force.

    Increased Entropy

    In cryptography, password strength is measured in entropy. Entropy refers to a password’s randomness and unpredictability. More entropy means more security.

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    Entropy increases dramatically with length. A 12-character password generally has around 72 bits of entropy, while a 15-character password has around 96 bits.

    Those extra 24 bits provide astronomically more password possibilities than a hacker would have to get through.

    Resilience Against Rainbow Table Attacks

    Another common hacking method is using pre-computed rainbow tables. Rainbow tables are massive databases filled with hashed common passwords.

    When you enter your password, it gets converted into a hash value. Hackers can match this hash to a database. But longer passwords are too complex for rainbow tables. There are simply too many combinations to store.

    15 characters are usually long enough to protect against this method.

    Password Length Recommendations

    So, how long should your password be to balance security and usability? Here are recommendations from leading cybersecurity experts:

    Is a 15 Character Password Good Enough for Security - Softwarecosmos.com

    NIST Password Guidelines

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) sets password rules for the US government and critical infrastructure. In 2017, NIST updated their digital identity guidelines.

    For regular accounts, they recommend passwords of at least 8 characters, with longer being better. For accounts with sensitive data, they suggest a minimum of 15 characters.

    Microsoft Recommendations

    Microsoft analyzes vast amounts of real-world password data to determine best practices. Their research led them to recommend a minimum of 14 characters for consumer accounts like Outlook and Xbox.

    For enterprise administrator accounts, they suggest a length of 16 characters or more.

    Google Guidelines

    Google also bases their password guidance on internal research. For regular Google accounts, they recommend 14 characters.

    For G Suite administrator accounts with raised privileges, their policy requires a minimum of 16 characters with a mix of types.

    Other Expert Guidance

    Bruce Schneier, a renowned cryptologist, says 14-20 characters is an appropriate length that balances usability and security based on modern computing.

    Meanwhile, security researcher Mark Burnett believes 20 characters is the new standard needed to protect against rapidly advancing cracking technology.

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    The Security Benefits of a 15-Character Password

    Based on recommendations from NIST, Microsoft, Google, and other experts, it’s clear that 15 characters provide ample security – even for sensitive accounts. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using a 15-character password:

    Is a 15 Character Password Good - Softwarecosmos.com

    Extremely Resilient to Brute Force Attacks

    Based on current and projected technology, a 15-character password simply cannot be cracked through brute force. The possible combinations are in the quadrillions and would take centuries to cycle through.

    High Entropy for Strong Encryption

    At around 96 bits of entropy, a 15-character password offers top-tier encryption strength. This fully protects against vulnerabilities like side channel attacks that take advantage of low entropy.

    Protection from Rainbow Table Cracking

    A 15-character password is too long and complex to appear in a rainbow table. Even if hackers obtain the hashed password value, it’s uncrackable through this method.

    Mitigates Risks from Advances in Computing Power

    As technology evolves, longer passwords may be needed to stay ahead of threats. Starting with 15 characters helps mitigate the risks posed by quantum computing and AI in the future.

    Long Enough for 2FA/MFA Scenarios

    For accounts with 2-factor or multifactor authentication, a 15-character primary password provides ample security even if one authentication factor is compromised.

    Potential Downsides of Long Passwords

    While there are clear security advantages to lengthy 15+ character passwords, there are some potential drawbacks as well:

    Difficulty Remembering memory has its limits. Long, complex passwords are inherently harder to remember than simple short ones. This could promote poor password hygiene like reuse or writing them down.

    Typing Inconvenience

    Manually typing in a lengthy password on every login can understandably get annoying. This inconvenience could prompt users to opt for less secure options.

    Vulnerable to Keylogging/Phishing

    Keyloggers and phishing attacks capture passwords entered. A longer password gives attackers more credentials to steal. Shorter, unique passwords for each account limit exposure.

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    False Sense of Security

    Overreliance on a long “super password” could lead to complacency about other vital security steps like multifactor authentication. Length is just one piece of the puzzle.

    Tips for Creating and Managing a 15-Character Password

    If you want to use a 15+ character password – and you should for important accounts – here are some tips to make it as easy and secure as possible:

    Tips for Creating and Managing a 15 Character Password - Softwarecosmos.com

    Use Sentences or Passphrases

    Random strings of letters, numbers, and symbols are incredibly hard to remember. Instead, opt for a short, memorable sentence or phrase like “C@ts&D0gsAr3Gr8!”

    Utilize a Password Manager

    Let a secure password manager handle remembering and typing long, complex passwords for you. This avoids the memory burden. Some of the best free Google password managers, LastPass, Bitwarden, 1Password and KeePass.

    Don’t Reuse Passwords

    Never reuse a password between accounts, no matter how long or strong it is. Unique passwords limit the damage from phishing and breaches.

    Enable Two-Factor Authentication

    For accounts with sensitive data, use multifactor or two-factor authentication in addition to a strong password for added security.

    Periodically Change Passwords

    Update your passwords every 60-90 days to stay ahead of potential breaches. Don’t overdo it, as frequent changes make passwords harder to remember.

    Is a 15-character Password Good?

    Yes, a 15-character password is generally considered strong enough for security purposes. However, it’s also important to consider using a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters to enhance your password’s security further. Additionally, enabling two-factor authentication whenever possible can provide an extra layer of security to your accounts. Please use the password generator here to generate a strong, random password for your account.

    Conclusion

    Length matters when it comes to password strength. Follow the experts’ advice: for your most important accounts, go beyond the minimum 8-character password.

    Fifteen characters strike the right balance of security and usability. It thwarts brute force attacks, provides high entropy, prevents rainbow table cracking, and keeps you safe from future threats.

    Combine a 15+ character password with unique credentials per account, multifactor authentication, password management, and periodic changes for comprehensive protection. Your data will thank you.