Why won't we help users create good passwords?

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Sysadmin pilot fish at this bank gets a call from a veteran loan officer, who complains that he can't get signed on to the core banking system.

"This particular user was a serial offender at locking out his account, so after re-enabling the account I got connected, sharing the user session," says fish.

"I entered the temporary password I had just set for the account into the first field myself to ensure success, and then asked him to choose a new password and confirm it.

"After five rounds of rejected new passwords, re-entering the password and giving him another chance to choose an alternative, I patiently explained that our password-complexity requirements would not allow the password to have two numbers next to each other.

"'Ah, OK, gotcha,' he said.

"After another ten attempts, and the same system rejection message, I offered examples of several passwords that would and wouldn't be accepted by the system -- and I reiterated that adjacent numeric characters would not work.

"'That's what I've been choosing, I don't know why it keeps rejecting.' Another five attempts go by. 'There must be a problem with the system, it doesn't like anything I try.'

"At this point I was wondering if there truly was an issue, so I took control of the session and entered a new password myself to test it. The system accepted it immediately and the user was successfully signed on.

"He said, 'OK, great. I don't know why it wouldn't take my new password -- 4 and 6 aren't next to each other...'"

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