Improving account passwords

Secret Word

Article from Issue 142/2012

Even with encrypted drives, account passwords remain one of the prime security methods for any Linux system. With a little knowledge of the available commands and their options, you can make your account passwords more secure.

If you have dealt at all with account passwords from the command line, the experience was probably through passwd, run with no options (Figure 1), or adduser, which calls on passwd as part of its operations (Figure 2). Both of these commands guide you through the basics of adding or changing an account password, requiring the usual double entry to ensure you know what you typed. Both were added long ago to Unix-like systems – just how long ago, you can judge by the command names themselves: The writers of passwd were under such tight naming restrictions that leaving out two characters made a difference, and adduser lacks a field for entering users’ email addresses.

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