Online password protection

Password: password

© Lead Image © Kian Hwi Lim,

© Lead Image © Kian Hwi Lim,

Article from Issue 228/2019

Securely storing passwords online can be a complex task. With a few tools, websites can offer better security, but users still need to choose their passwords wisely.

When it comes to password security on social networking sites, such as LinkedIn or XING, users usually have to rely on the website's claims. Because these sites are closed source applications, users don't know for sure how their passwords are protected. Often, by the time they find out, it may be too late. In 2012, for example, LinkedIn lost an estimated 6.5 million encrypted passwords. There may have been more as the company did not provide exact figures, because in 2016 a hacker offered to sell 117 million LinkedIn users' customer data [1].

Of all the types of stored data, user passwords are a particularly attractive target. One reason for this is that many users reuse a password for more than one site. Once an attacker has cracked a user's password on one site, they can use it to exploit other sites as well. Another reason is that the passwords many people choose are just too simple.

While all social networks store personal data, open source solutions, such as my project vutuv [2], are usually more open with their security approaches (see the box "Open Source Infrastructure"). Read on for a behind the scenes look at how our site goes about securely storing passwords.


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