Gartner Research

Best Practices for Managing Passwords: End-User Policies Must Balance Risk, Compliance and Usability Needs, 2012 Update

Published: 10 May 2012

ID: G00234562

Analyst(s): Ant Allan


A password policy that stresses password strength and other regulatory requirements may tax users and drive behavior that actually reduces security. Follow Gartner's best practices to balance risk and compliance needs against ease of use.

Table Of Contents
  • Key Challenges


  • The Unbearable Weakness of Passwords
  • Regulatory Requirements Are Sometimes Concrete and Sometimes Abstract
  • Best Practice: Mandate Password Confidentiality as a Strict Requirement
  • Best Practice: Set Reasonable Length and Complexity Requirements
  • Best Practice: Avoid Frequent Forced Password Changes
  • Best Practice: Set Password History to Discourage Password Reuse
  • Best Practice: Set Grace Logins to Allow Legitimate Users to Enter the Wrong Password Without Penalty
  • Best Practice: Give Special Consideration to Power-On Passwords for Mobile Devices

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