Google on Thursday offered administrators of its Premier version of Google Apps more control over the passwords their users choose to access data in Gmail, Docs, and other hosted applications.
Google Apps administrators can now set a minimum password length and will be able to see how strong each user's password remains over time. They can then suggest that users change them if the passwords become weakened. Password strength degrades as the words and names on which they are based become more common and more subject to dictionary attacks.
"Customers were asking for (this) and looking for better visibility" into their end users' security choices, said Eran Feigenbaum, director of security for Google Apps.
The experience for end users will not change. Users of the premier version, typically corporations and educational institutions, are able to see a visual gauge of the strength of their passwords when they create them, as users of the free consumer Google Apps can.
Experts say stronger, more secure passwords are longer, have little resemblance to a common word, and have more upper-case and special characters.