Password policy

Password policy

Password authentication is effective only if the password is sufficiently strong and is changed periodically. By default, the FortiGate unit requires only that passwords be at least eight characters in length, but up to 128 characters is permitted. You can set a password policy to enforce higher standards for both length and complexity of passwords. Password policies can apply to administrator passwords or IPsec VPN pre-shared keys.

To set a password policy in the web-based manager, go to System > Settings. In the CLI, use the config system password-policy command.

Users usually create passwords composed of alphabetic characters and perhaps some numbers. Password policy can require the inclusion of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numerals or punctuation characters.

Configuring password minimum requirement policy

Best practices dictate that passwords include:

l one or more uppercase characters l one or more lower case characters l one or more of the numerals l one or more special characters.

The minimum number of each of these types of characters can be set in both the web-based manager and the CLI.

The following procedures show how to force administrator passwords to contain at least two uppercase, four lower care, two digits, and one special character. Leave the minimum length at the default of eight characters.

To change administrator password minimum requirements – web-based manager:

  1. Go to System > Settings.
  2. Select Enable Password Policy.
  3. Select Must Contain at Least.
  4. Enter the following information:
Upper Case Letters 2
Lower Case Letters 4
Numbers 2
Special Characters 1
  1. Under Apply Password Policy to, select Administrator Password.
  2. Select Apply.

To change administrator password minimum requirements – CLI:

config system password-policy

Password policy

set status enable set apply-to admin-password set min-upper-case-letter 2 set min-lower-case-letter 4 set min-number 2 set min-non-alphanumeric 1 set change-4-characters enable


The change-4-characters option forces new passwords to change a minimum of four characters in the old password. Changing fewer characters results in the new password being rejected. This option is only available in the CLI.

To configure a guest administrator password policy – CLI:

As of FortiOS 5.4, a password policy can also be created for guest administrators. The following command shows all possible commands, which are also available under config system password-policy.

config system password-policy set status {enable | disable} Enable/disable password policy. set apply-to {guest-admin-password} Guest admin to which this password policy applies. set minimum-length <8-128> Minimum password length. set min-lower-case-letter <0-128> Min. lowercase characters in password. set min-upper-case-letter <0-128> Min. uppercase characters in password. set min-non-alphanumeric <0-128> Min. non-alphanumeric characters in password. set min-number <0-128> Min. numeric characters in password.

set change-4-characters {enable | disable} Enable/disable changing at least 4 characters for new password.

set expire-status {enable | disable} Enable/disable password expiration.

set expire-day <1-999> Number of days before password expires.

set reuse-password {enable | disable} Enable/disable reuse of password. end

Password best practices

In addition to length and complexity, there are security factors that cannot be enforced in a policy. Guidelines issued to users will encourage proper password habits.

Best practices dictate that password expiration also be enabled. This forces passwords to be changed on a regular basis. You can set the interval in days. The more sensitive the information this account has access to, the shorter the password expiration interval should be. For example 180 days for guest accounts, 90 days for users, and 60 days for administrators.


l real words found in any language dictionary l numeric sequences, such as “12345” l sequences of adjacent keyboard characters, such as “qwerty” l adding numbers on the end of a word, such as “hello39” l adding characters to the end of the old password, such as “hello39” to “hello3900” l repeated characters l personal information, such as your name, birthday, or telephone number.

Maximum login attempts and blackout period

When you login and fail to enter the correct password you could be a valid user, or a hacker attempting to gain access. For this reason, best practices dictate to limit the number of failed attempts to login before a blackout period where you cannot login.

To set a maximum of five failed authentication attempts before the blackout, using the following CLI command:

config user setting set auth-invalid-max 5


To set the length of the blackout period to five minutes, or 300 seconds, once the maximum number of failed login attempts has been reached, use the following CLI command:

config user setting set auth-blackout-time 300


Having trouble configuring your Fortinet hardware or have some questions you need answered? Check Out The Fortinet Guru Youtube Channel! Want someone else to deal with it for you? Get some consulting from Fortinet GURU!

This entry was posted in Administration Guides, FortiGate, FortiOS 6 on by .

About Mike

Michael Pruett, CISSP has a wide range of cyber-security and network engineering expertise. The plethora of vendors that resell hardware but have zero engineering knowledge resulting in the wrong hardware or configuration being deployed is a major pet peeve of Michael's. This site was started in an effort to spread information while providing the option of quality consulting services at a much lower price than Fortinet Professional Services. Owns PacketLlama.Com (Fortinet Hardware Sales) and Office Of The CISO, LLC (Cybersecurity consulting firm).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.