To view this page, you should have the most recent Java installed
32-bit JRE (Java Runtime Environment) 1.8.0_45.
This Applet will run online in your browser, but it is a hybrid you
can also download, install and run it on your own machine as standalone
application. It will start and run faster if you do that. It will also
work safely even if you have disabled Java in your browser.
A word you use to prove that you are truly you to a computer. You
will have a password to log on to your operating system, one for each
affiliate and even one for various free services on the web. Snoops can
look at your files without knowing your login password by booting with
an UbuntuLinuxCD (Compact Disc)
and examining your files, bypassing Windows and its passwords. To
protect against that, you need to encrypt your files. Then you have
passwords on your files, not just Windows as a whole.
Passwords that are easy to guess include the names of loved ones and
relatives, words in the dictionary, especially ones with strong
emotional connotation like God, whale, love.
A tool can crack your password just by trying all words in the
dictionary. So you must disguise them. Add digits, mix the case. This
little program will generate you an impossible to guess password. If
want to make sure I am not keeping a copy, download
source, check the program out and run it on your own machine.
Make sure you paste the generated passwords somewhere for safekeeping. Doing this also helps verify the value you are pasting blind into web forms.
The Australian government recommends changing passwords frequently, at least twice a year, to prevent identity theft and using unguessable passwords at least 8
characters long with a mixture of digits and both upper and lower case letters. The password generator defaults to 10 characters. The Australians celebrate a special day
in early June to change their passwords.
Don’t use the same password at multiple sites unless you don’t care at all about the security of any of them.
A word in the dictionary can be cracked in under a second. That is no security at all.
Java Requirements and Troubleshooting
is a Java Applet (that can also be run as an application)
to Password Generator.
You are welcome to install it on your own website.
If it does not work…
If Copy/Paste (Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V) do not work, you can turn them back on by
modifying your java.policy file. This is not for the novice or faint of heart. instructions
Your alternative is to download this program and run it without a browser.
In the Java Control Panel security tab,
click Start ⇒ Control Panel ⇒
Programs ⇒ Java ⇒ Security, configure medium security
to allow self-signed and vanilla unsigned applets to run.
If medium is not available, or if Java security is blocking you from running the program,
configure high security
and add http://mindprod.com
to the Exception Site List at the bottom of the security tab.
Often problems can be fixed simply by clicking the reload button on your browser.
Make sure the Java in your browser is enabled in the security tab of the Java Control panel.
Click Start ⇒ Control Panel ⇒
Programs ⇒ Java ⇒ Security ⇒
Enable Java Content in the browser.
This Java Applet (that can also be run as an application)
needs 32-bit or 64-bit Java 1.7 or later.
For best results use the latest 1.8.0_45 Java.
It works under any operating system that supports Java
e.g. W2K, XP, W2003, Vista, W2008, W7-32, W7-64, W8-32, W8-64, W2012, Linux, LinuxARM, LinuxX86, LinuxX64, Ubuntu, Solaris, SolarisSPARC, SolarisSPARC64, SolarisX86, SolarisX64 and OSX
You should see the Applet hybrid above looking much like this
If you don’t, the following hints should help you get it working:
Especially if this Applet hybrid has worked before, try clearing the browser cache and rebooting.
To ensure your Java is up to date, check with Wassup.
First, download it and run it as an application independent of your browser,
then run it online as an Applet to add the complication of your browser.
If the above Applet hybrid does not work,
check the Java console for error messages.
If the above Applet hybrid does not work, you might have better luck with the downloadable version available below.
If you are using Mac OS X and would like an improved Look and Feel,
download the QuaQua look & feel
UnZip the contained quaqua.jar
and install it in ~/Library/Java/Extensions
or one of the other ext dirs.
Click the Information bar, and then click Allow blocked content. Unfortunately, this also allows dangerous ActiveX code to run. However, you must do this in order to get access to perfectly-safe Java Applets running in a sandbox. This is part of Microsoft’s war on Java.
Try upgrading to a more recent version of your browser,
or try a different browser e.g. Chrome, Firefox, SeaMonkey, Opera, Safari or Avant.
If you still can’t get the program working
click the red HELP button below for more detail.
If you can’t get the above Applet hybrid working
after trying the advice above and from the red HELP button below,
have bugs to report or ideas to improve the program or its documentation,
please send me an email at.
If the print is too small to see, use the Opera
browser and zoom. Or copy/paste the generated password blind.
In a highly secure system, each end has a public and private key.
They each encrypt and digitally sign a random message for the other to
establish identity. Even these have to be carefully designed to
withstand a man-in-the-middle attack.
There are some lower tech alternatives:
If you have Java on both ends, the server could send a random
string of bytes to the client. The client could concatenate that
with a string of bytes representing the password, then run it
SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm 1)
MD5 (Message Digest algorithm 5)
digest and send it back to the server. The server does the same
thing and compares its version with the client’s.
If the server is C++ it
won’t necessarily have access to a
digest. You could then have to come up with a digest
function you can implement easily in C++.
You could use an Adler or
CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check)
with some wrinkle to make it a tad harder to crack, or use one of
the HashCode algorithms.
If you want to avoid a two way exchange for faster login, let the
random key be the time of day stamp in
UTC (Coordinated Universal Time/Temps Universel Coordonné).
The client sends it along in plaintext with the digest. The
timestamp is rejected if it is too far from now.
For something even lower tech, but unfortunately easy to crack,
try XORing the bytes of the password with something you change
Base64 alone, cascaded Base64 or ROT13 is no protection at all.
Servers often don’t store bald passwords. They store some sort of
digest of them. That way if someone cracks the password file, they still
don’t know the passwords.
Tomcat has a single signon so that all applications in a realm share
the same set of user-ids and passwords. If a user logs into one
authenticate each request.
Tomcat lets you configure
the tables and columns to automatically look up and validate
passwords. Caucho Resin
similarly lets you configure
SQL (Standard Query Language)
queries to automatically find the passwords in your database.
Another way is to use graphical passwords, easier for the user to
remember and harder to steal. The basic idea is you display a complex
image to the user and he selects a number of click
points. I suspect this scheme is much less secure than it creators
claim, since there are a limited number of natural points of interest in
a photo, which could be easily discovered by showing the photo to 100
Passwords at the Client
When your Applet or
JWS (Java Web Start)
applications is pretending to be a browser talking to a server, you can
use the java.net.Authenticator to
automatically insert the userid and password base64-encoded in your
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
headers in the Authorization field. If the
server does not like you userid/password combination in return a 401 Unauthorized response code. The server gives you
no hint as to whether the userid or the password is the problem. You
might consider this obnoxious behaviour, but it is done that way to make
life difficult for people trying to hack the system.
Passwords at the Server
How passwords are handled is specific to each application server. Most
will provide a rudimentary, unsuitable-for-production flat file scheme.
The better ones will provide a means of configuring a database for the
users. Almost all allow you to extend a class to provide a custom
Java Servlets defines a simple password scheme controlled entirely by
a flat file web.xml. This would be suitable
for a small company where the list of users and passwords could be
maintained with a text editor by the system administrator.
The best approach (for expandability) is to incorporate a third party
SSO (Single Sign-On) (some
application servers come with one). This allows you to add new
applications and share the login across them with a minimum of effort.
Also, they typically plug into an existing
LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)
taking user and password management out of the application’s
hands. This allows corporations to take advantage of existing
data when deploying applications.
Tomcat offers five different interfaces to databases of passwords.
JDBC (Java Data Base Connectivity)
Realm lets you interface to a
SQLusers and userroles
tables. You configure the name of your table containing the user ids
and passwords (among other things) and your rôle s table which
describes which rôle s a user can play. You assign Tomcat a
userid/password and jDBC connect string to give it with read-only
access to your database to perform the authentications. It is much
simpler than it first looks.
Things I have not yet figured out include:
How do you arrange for a timeout, so that after a period of
inactivity, the login expires and the user has to re-enter his
password. I know how to do it from first principles, but not with
Just how much does the Applet get in involved with cookies, or do
they get piggybacked behind its back.
Does Java Authenticator understand the Tomcat cookie scheme?
This is a scheme for picking a password without
a computer, just some casino dice. The paranoid instructions are
somewhat tongue in cheek. The scheme is just as vulnerable as any
other if there is a keystroke logger (hardware or software) installed
on your computer. It is just as vulnerable as other schemes to others
discovering a copy of your password stored somewhere. The big
advantage is you don’t have to trust the author of
Here are some ways to crack/guess passwords:
Get a list of common passwords and write a computer program to
try them all.
Set up a little website and ask people to give you a password.
Chances are they will give you one of their existing passwords. You
can then use it to get into their other accounts.
Snoop on the conversation between user and website, pluck the
password out of the initial message.
Try out all the words in the dictionary.
Try all possible combinations of 4
letters, punctuation and digits.
Look for passwords written in a book or slip of paper in the
If you know the person, try the names of their friends and
relatives, pets, favourite celebrities.
Look for a master list of passwords in a text file on disk.
I hope this shows you why making up passwords is not a good practice.
You need something truly random like passwords from the password
Rant on Keying Passwords Blind
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language),
you can force people to type blind into forms. Instead of what you
type, you just see ***. This feature is commonly used to hide the
password as you login to some website.
<!-- making the user type a password blind in html5 --><form action="/login" method="get"><input name="user[password]" size="50" type="password"></form>
Here are some reasons why keying passwords blind is a bad idea:
Many people cannot touch type if they cannot see what they are
doing. It totally throws them off.
Passwords are gibberish. They are a nightmare type at the best of
times. How can you be expected to get them right if you can’t
see what you are doing?
If you are setting a password and you get it wrong, you will never
be able to type it correctly in future.
Some sites even go so far as to block you from pasting a password.
This is just plain sadistic.
Most of the time a password protects the right to post on a forum
under a given id, that’s all. It is not the
CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)
or Credit Suisse. There is no money involved. There is no need for
The ordeal encourages people to pick easy-to-type,
easy-to-remember, easy-to-guess, terrible passwords and to reuse
them at every site.
If you are pasting things like your name, address, phone,
password…, you can easily blindly paste the wrong thing and
I can think of only one reason to consider typing blind:
The concern is security. Someone might be looking over your
shoulder. Someone might be spying viewing your screen or logging
your keystrokes remotely. (Typing blind does nothing to deter
Some sites make you type blind, but let you see what you are typing
at any time by clicking a button. I think that is a reasonable
Another related problem is making you type a Captcha when you
register. It takes about 40 trials to get
the Captcha right. Each time they erase the passwords you have
selected. The security benefits are almost nil. The frustration and
ill will is huge.
Sometimes sites require a password just to read material or make
comments. You could care less if anyone cracked your password. It is a
nuisance to create a strong password and have to look it up every time
you logon to the site. In that case you can use a weak
It is short and easy to remember, easy to type, but still not
It does not have to be random.
You use that same password for all your sites that pointlessly
require a password, e.g. newspapers.
You never use it for an important site like a bank, PayPal, income
Don’t use a weak password if your enemies might try to
embarrass you by posting odd things in your name.
Passwords are very primitive. They are little better than no security
at all. There are better systems, called private/public certificates
that have been around for decades that don’t require you to
reveal your password to anyone, not even yourself, so they do not
require websites maintaining good security. They don’t require
you to memorize anything.
There is another school of thought that you should keep passwords to
4 to 6 letters and force users to accept frequently changed ones. This
discourages users from writing them down and discourages them for
reusing them elsewhere.
We could invent a portable hardware password wallet that generates
random passwords and coughs up the corresponding password for any
URL (Uniform Resource Locator).
This would defeat a keystroke logger. It could be implemented with
software similar to PWSafe (augmented with browser plug-ins) on a
AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)
USB (Universal Serial Bus)
Flash Drive. There would be no keystrokes and nothing on the screen to
spy on. Of course they could still spy on your Internet connection,
internally before it is TLS-encrypted. High security is expensive and
You could also use a certificate-based system like the USA military
CAC (Common Access Card)
card. There are no passwords to remember or record. There are no
passwords to steal or snoop on. There is no record of your passwords
on the servers you contact or even digests of them. It is highly
secure. One certificate could be you key to everything on the
Internet, to your house lock, car locks etc. It could control where
you are allowed to wander at work, in hospitals, in public buildings
etc. You could securely buy stuff over the Internet. Right now
Internet purchases are secure as Fedexing each merchant a box full of
blank cheques. The certificate based system would be your forge-proof
passport and universal ID.
they will soon have a system based on your phone number. I am
skeptical. Any such system that was secure would not even need a phone
The 25 Most Common Passwords
If you have been using one of these passwords, or ones similar, you
might as well not have a password at all.