a user (can be admin) for example in a website has:

  • a password that is used for normal and everyday access (not security critical actions).

  • another password that is used for performing security critical actions.

does this two password design have any advantages so that it is worth implementing?

can it be considered a standard design?

do u know of any better/standard alternative to this design?

  • Not really a standard design but it's a good habit to have a different and much stronger password for your important accounts in general.
    – Shurmajee
    Jun 16 '13 at 8:49

Not really, if you want to implement a function where the administrative functions require stronger authentication you should opt for two factor authentication rather than two passwords. The reason for this is that if an attacker can get your password somehow, chances are they can also retrieve the second one.

  • what if we can't afford two factor authentication?
    – H M
    Jun 16 '13 at 8:48
  • 1
    Google authenticator is free... Jun 16 '13 at 9:06
  • @HM - Then you have bigger problems.
    – Fake Name
    Jun 16 '13 at 12:57
  • 3
    2FA can be something as simple as uploading a keyfile. Costs nothing and is easy to implement.
    – Polynomial
    Jun 16 '13 at 14:11
  • adding to the comment by Lucas Kauffman, OpenOTP comes as a virtual appliance for up to 25 users, and uses Google authenticator as the client end. if you have a little more technical experience LinOTP is completely free if you don't buy support. Both implement Google auth as a Radius server. Jun 18 '13 at 5:13

I agree with Lucas Kauffman that two-factor authentication is much better than using two passwords. What you are suggesting is not a very good design, but it is still not bad design. Always try to implement 2FA.

As for your design itself, having a different password for privileged actions could be sometimes a good idea and give you some time and flexibility to react after you enter your normal password using an untrusted computer. In this case, you would simply change the normal password knowing that your privileged account is safe.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.