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Passwords with Symbols in 11g

Oracle 11g New Features Tips by Burleson Consulting
June 29, 2015

Oracle 11g New Features Tips

In previous release an Oracle password could have a maximum length of 30 characters. This is still the same as before. A password is an identifier like any other identifier in the database and identifiers are still limited to a maximum length of 30 characters, strangely enough.

% Now a 30 character Oracle password can contain a mix of symbols and
           multi-byte characters! Pre-Oracle Database 11g only allows "_", "$" and "#"            symbols. 

Let's try to create a password with symbols:

SYS AS SYSDBA @ orcl SQL> alter user lutz identified by _#new%&;
SP2-0317: expected symbol name is missing
alter user lutz identified by _#new%&                              *

ERROR at line 1:
ORA-00911: invalid character

Uups, it does not work this way!

Another try, this time with single quotes:

SYS AS SYSDBA @ orcl SQL> alter user lutz identified by '_#new%&';
alter user lutz identified by '_#new%&'

ERROR at line 1:
ORA-00988: missing or invalid password(s)

% You must use double quotes for passwords with symbols other than _, # or $! 

SYS AS SYSDBA @ orcl SQL> alter user lutz identified by "_#new%&";

User altered.

Not all symbols can be used in 11g passwords without special care, not even when you are using double quotes. Let's see what happens if we use an ampersand (&):

SYS AS SYSDBA @ orcl SQL> alter user lutz identified by "_#new%&1234567890";
Enter value for 1234567890:
old   1: alter user lutz identified by "_#new%&1234567890"
new   1: alter user lutz identified by "_#new%"

User altered.

This works like an exchange variable and is caused by the default setting for DEFINE in SQL*PLUS:

SYS AS SYSDBA @ orcl SQL> show define
define "&" (hex 26)

% It is strongly recommended to use the pls*sql command password in order to            change the password and use an & as a symbol in a password.

% Beware of ?&? in passwords!
% Comma, backslash, double quote and the DEFINE symbol are not allowed in             passwords

Now let's check the maximum length of passwords:

SYS AS SYSDBA @ orcl SQL> alter user lutz identified by "_#new%1234567890%123454667890%1";
alter user lutz identified by "_#new%1234567890%123454667890%1234567890"
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-00972: identifier is too long

[oracle@rhas4 ~]$ oerr ora 972
00972, 00000, "identifier is too long"
// *Cause:  An identifier with more than 30 characters was specified.
// *Action:  Specify at most 30 characters.

Case sensitive passwords

A new 11 g database uses case sensitive passwords by default if it was created with the database configuration assistant (DBCA). This is implemented through the new initialization parameter sec_case_sensitive_login.

A 10g database which is upgraded with the database upgrade assistant (DBUA) also uses case sensitive passwords by default but only for newly created user accounts.

% If you create an 11g database manually with a create database command            case sensitive passwords are not used by DEFAULT!

SYSTEM  @ orcl111 SQL> show parameter sec_case

NAME                                 TYPE        VALUE
------------------------------------ ----------- ------------------------------
sec_case_sensitive_logon             boolean     TRUE

 % The default for the parameter sec_case_sensitive_login is FALSE.

An Oracle 11g password file can also store case sensitive passwords. The password file creation utility evaluates the new parameter ignorecase to allow case sensitive passwords or restrict passwords to case insensitivity.

%  In order to create a password file with orapwd which disallows case sensitive             passwords you must set ignorecase to N.

[oracle@rhas4 ~]$ orapwd help=y
Usage: orapwd file=<fname> password=<password> entries=<users> force=<y/n>
    file - name of password file (required),
    password - password for SYS (optional),
    entries - maximum number of distinct DBA (required),
    force - whether to overwrite existing file (optional),
    ignorecase - passwords are case-insensitive (optional),
    nosysdba - whether to shut out the SYSDBA logon (optional Database Vault only).

  There must be no spaces around the equal-to (=) character.


This is an excerpt from the new book Oracle 11g New Features: Expert Guide to the Important New Features by John Garmany, Steve Karam, Lutz Hartmann, V. J. Jain, Brian Carr.

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30% off.


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