Why AT&T Won't Let You Swear in Your Passwords

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It's your inalienable right, as a citizen of the internet, to curse and swear as creatively as possible at all times. That's 80-percent of why anyone fires up a browser to begin with. Which is why AT&T's move to ban naughty language in passwords created no small amount of ire.

So what gives? Before you dig up your swear jar nickels, know that Ma Bell is just trying to save you from yourself.

As the company told Ars Technica last night, the motive behind the ban isn't as puritanical is it might seem:

To protect our customers, AT&T maintains a list of words that cannot be used as passwords because they are too commonly used, and therefore too easily guessed by third parties. That list includes, among thousands of other words, several that are obscene. They are therefore excluded from use in passwords not because they are obscene, but because they are commonly used.


See? That feels better! It's not that the words are bad it's that they're too easily guessed by foul-mouthed hackers and their obscene password-cracking programs. Except... wait a minute. You can still get a whole lotta cussin' through. Back to Ars, whose mom is washing its blogmouth out with soap as we speak:

Ars was able to choose passwords that contained several naughty phrases including "Fuck_4_Duck" (minus the quotes) and "Fuck_Shit_Penis," the latter of which AT&T rated as an "excellent" password choice. The strings "shit," "fuck," and "fucker" were blocked but only on the grounds that they were weak, since they contained fewer than six characters or didn't contain a mixture of numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols. Even still the passcodes "fucker1" and "fuck3r" worked just fine. Go figure.


So fear not, loyal internet denizens. You can still squeeze some duck love into your password, and AT&T's not trying to take your filthy lollipop away. Of course, by eliminating a whole swath of potential passwords the move makes a hacker's job easier in some ways. But that's neither here nor swear. [Ars]