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Password protection and rules

Password rules

Clerk refers to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines to determine the character rules for passwords:

Verifiers SHALL require subscriber-chosen memorized secrets to be at least 8 characters in length. Verifiers SHOULD permit subscriber-chosen memorized secrets at least 64 characters in length. All printing ASCII RFC 20(opens in a new tab) characters as well as the space character SHOULD be acceptable in memorized secrets. Unicode ISO/IEC 10646(opens in a new tab) characters SHOULD be accepted as well. To make allowances for likely mistyping, verifiers MAY replace multiple consecutive space characters with a single space character prior to verification, provided that the result is at least 8 characters in length. Truncation of the secret SHALL NOT be performed. For purposes of the above length requirements, each Unicode code point SHALL be counted as a single character.

NIST Special Publication 800-63B(opens in a new tab)

While these rules might seem lax independently, NIST's additional leaked password protection guidelines do more to prevent the use of unsafe passwords.

Also, please bear in mind, that passwords are not a requirement for using Clerk. Applications can be configured to use a passwordless strategy that relies on your users being sent one-time passwords instead.

Leaked password protection

Clerk refers to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines to determine its handling of leaked passwords:

When processing requests to establish and change memorized secrets, verifiers SHALL compare the prospective secrets against a list that contains values known to be commonly-used, expected, or compromised. For example, the list MAY include, but is not limited to: NIST Special Publication 800-63B(opens in a new tab)

  • Passwords obtained from previous breach corpuses.

Specifically, Clerk contracts with have i been pwned(opens in a new tab) to compare prospective passwords against its corpus of over 10 billion leaked credentials.

Password strength

Clerk uses zxcvbn-ts(opens in a new tab) for estimating the strength of passwords and leverages the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) guidelines(opens in a new tab) to determine its handling of password strength:

OWASP recommends using a password strength estimation library like zxcvbn to evaluate the strength of passwords. This can help identify weak passwords and prevent their use.

For users that set an average/weak password that complies with your organization's policies but could be stronger - Clerk also provides a gentle recommendation to use a stronger password.

OWASP recommends providing feedback to users on the strength of their password and offering suggestions for improvement. This can help users create stronger passwords and improve the overall security of the application.

Last updated on January 8, 2024

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