Browse Definitions:
Definition

password entropy

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Password entropy is a measurement of how unpredictable a password is.

Password entropy is based on the character set used (which is expansible by using lowercase, uppercase, numbers as well as symbols) as well as password length. Password entropy predicts how difficult a given password would be to crack through guessing, brute force cracking, dictionary attacks or other common methods.

Password entropy is usually expressed in terms of bits: A password that is already known has zero bits of entropy; one that would be guessed on the first attempt half the time would have 1 bit of entropy. A password's entropy can be calculated by finding the entropy per character, which is a log base 2 of the number of characters in the character set used, multiplied by the number of characters
in the password itself.

NIST provides the following guidelines for user-selected passwords with 30 bits of entropy:

  • Use a minimum of 8 characters selected from  a 94-character set.
  • Include at least one upper case letter, one lower case letter, one number and one special character.
  • Use a dictionary of common words that users should avoid, like a password blacklist.
  • Don’t use any permutations of your username as your password.

Of course password entropy can't be the only thing considered or passwords would be too long, complex and unmemorable. Best practices involve employing something memorable to the user but not easily guessed by anyone else. Because password length is one of the most important factors affecting password entropy and overall strength, a longer password can be simpler than a shorter one and still be effective.

See also: password strength meter

This was last updated in January 2014

Continue Reading About password entropy

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • computer exploit

    A computer exploit, or exploit, is an attack on a computer system, especially one that takes advantage of a particular ...

  • cyberwarfare

    Cyberwarfare is computer- or network-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks by a nation-state on another ...

  • insider threat

    Insider threat is a generic term for a threat to an organization's security or data that comes from within.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • 3D XPoint

    3D XPoint is memory storage technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron Technology Inc.

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

  • JEDEC

    JEDEC is a global industry group that develops open standards for microelectronics.

SearchCloudStorage

  • Google Cloud Storage

    Google Cloud Storage is an enterprise public cloud storage platform that can house large unstructured data sets.

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

Close