Asking for password letters in random order is not helping security

I get this every now and then from banking and other services. I appreciate the principle of challenging you on certain letters, so the entire password is never transferred. However:

  • Please add an extra line of code to sort the positions. Asking me for the 4th letter and then the 2nd letter doesn’t fit the way I think, and has zero impact on security anyway.

  • It does get difficult when I’m walking around on my mobile and I have to punch in the 8th letter of an 11-letter password.

  • It’s also fairly pointless on a SSL-secured website, where no-one should be able to see the password – if someone is in a position to sniff the password, they will probably be able to sniff it again the next few times and get your details. It’s only useful in a call centre situation, to prevent casual abuse. You may as well do what other sites do and ask for the whole password. The above screenshot is from experian, which is probably more used to call centres and has just translated their phone script into a website without thinking about the different user experience and different conventions of the web.

One thought on “Asking for password letters in random order is not helping security


    People searching the logs for gibberish (i.e. passwords) aren’t interested in two letters.

    This has nothing to do with being an interesting challenge, securing your password on the wire or making it easier to type with your phone.

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