Researchers find new ways to keep passwords safe

Researchers find new ways to keep passwords safe

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Two Clemson researchers are working to patent new ways to keep passwords safe.

After recent hack attacks to Apple's iCloud and Sony Entertainment, Kevin Juang, who just graduated as a PhD student at Clemson, and Dr. Joel Greenstein, an associate engineering professor say they've found new ways to help keep password secure.

"People tend to pick insecure passwords," Juang said.

The first method lets you draw pictures to help remember a more difficult password or phrase that hackers can't guess.

"It turns out people weren't able to guess the password from the picture and they weren't even able to get close," Juang said.

Their other security option uses 10 decoy rows, and as you type your password, it types random phrases on the other rows so people watching your screen can't steal it.

"You know which row to look at but someone looking over your shoulder doesn't know which row to look at so they see 10 rows only one of which is the right one," Greenstein said.

Greenstein and Juang say to be creative with your password. Don't use your name and don't use your pet's name and don't use your date of birth. They say in research the most common password people pick is just 'password', and the longer you make your password, the better.

"With or 7 or 8 characters they might be able to get it in a day or two," Greenstein said. "By going to 15 or 16 characters, it may change the time to years."

Some people think their information isn't valuable like Sony's, but Greenstein and Juang say hackers target a lot of people at once, and the weaker a password is, the more likely it'll be hacked.

"A password is like the lock on your front door," Greenstein said. "If the lock on your front door and your door are stronger than the other locks and doors in your neighborhood, most thieves are not going to be targeting you unless they know you have something particularly valuable."

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