Shadow Password

Shadow Passwords

In environments with multiple users, it is very important to use shadow passwords provided by the shadow-utils package to enhance the security of system authentication files. For this reason, the installation program enables shadow passwords by default.
The following is a list of the advantages shadow passwords have over the traditional way of storing passwords on UNIX-based systems:
  • Shadow passwords improve system security by moving encrypted password hashes from the world-readable /etc/passwd file to /etc/shadow, which is readable only by the root user.
  • Shadow passwords store information about password aging.
  • Shadow passwords allow the /etc/login.defs file to enforce security policies.
Most utilities provided by the shadow-utils package work properly whether or not shadow passwords are enabled. However, since password aging information is stored exclusively in the /etc/shadow file, any commands which create or modify password aging information do not work. The following is a list of utilities and commands that do not work without first enabling shadow passwords:
  • The chage utility.
  • The gpasswd utility.
  • The usermod command with the -e or -f option.
  • The useradd command with the -e or -f option.
About the Author