Unicode in passwords

Julian Bradfield jcb+unicode at inf.ed.ac.uk
Wed Oct 7 04:59:57 CDT 2015

On 2015-10-06, Philippe Verdy <verdy_p at wanadoo.fr> wrote:
> I was speaking of OUTPUT fields : you want to display passwords that are
> stored somewhere (including in a text document stored in some safe place
> such as an external flash drive). People can't remember many passwords.

Again, output fields (such as in the Firefox password manager), in my
experience, display the text that is in them, not a stripped and
compressed version. If they don't, it's a bug.
If you start using passwords including NBSP and EM-DASH, then it's
going to get a bit awkward - but you should know you're doing that,
and take measures accordingly.

> Hiding them on screen is a fake security, what we need is complex passwords
> (difficult to memoize so we need a wallet to store them but people will
> also **printing** them and not store them in a electronic format), and many

It's questionable whether there is ever a need to print a password,
except in the case of an automatically generated hard-copy password
reset. My digital will (if I'd produced one) would need about half a
dozen passwords, mainly the master password for the password manager,
plus some sensitive finance and system admin ones. That's few enough
to write down by hand (or type by hand into a text file), with
appropriate notes.

> passwords (one for each site or application requiring one). But they also
> want to be able to type them correctly: long passwords hidden on screen

Most of our students seem (when I see them logging in to give
presentations) to have long passwords - 20-30 characters - and they
don't seem to have a problem. This also illustrates why defaulting to
hidden passwords is useful.

> Biometric identification is also another fake security (because it is

Not sure what this has to do with Unicode in passwords.

> immutable, when passwords can be and should be changed regularly) and it is

Bruce Schneier is one of the best known and most respected security
researchers around today, and here's his advice:

  So in general: you don't need to regularly change the password to
  your computer or online financial accounts (including the accounts
  at retail sites); definitely not for low-security accounts. You
  should change your corporate login password occasionally, and you
  need to take a good hard look at your friends, relatives, and
  paparazzi before deciding how often to change your Facebook
  password. But if you break up with someone you've shared a computer
  with, change them all. 

( https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/11/changing_passwo.html )

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