I'm planning to follow the steps described in this answer to have a different password to log in and sudo. The reason is that I want a high security password to access my account or unblock the screensaver, but I don't want to type it every time I need to sudo something.

My questions: is there any security issue I should be aware of by making this change? Will my protection be "weaker" than having the same super-secure password for everything (for example, root can log in with the insecure password)? Is there any better way to archive this?

Please consider even the worst-case scenario, ie, the attacker has physical access to my computer (logged out from my account).

Some details probably worth mentioning: No other user account in my computer is sudoer (nor will be). home directory encrypted.

1 Answer 1


Root can sort of be logged in with an insecure password yes. With sudo su, is this a security issue? You have to decide that on your own (you can forbid sudo from using the su command to bypass that), similarly it depends on how you are using sudo, if you are giving your user account full access to any desired command through sudo, then of course, anyone who can access your terminal and find out your sudo password will be able to do just that. (The only way around this would be to only permit your user to use specific commands through sudo)

Naturally if you have a secure password for logging in and unlocking your screen, then the only cases where you really would have a security issue would be if someone manages to get to your unlocked computer while you are away, and if someone manages to hack into your terminal (for example if you have SSH installed, or if someone manages to infect your system with a virus that allows him to remotely access your computer)

It is extremely unlikely that you will be hacked on linux, unless someone has a reason to specifically target you, so worrying about that one would just be paranoia I think, the other issue can be solved by manually locking your screen every time you step away from your computer.

In other words, you really don't have anything to worry about. Just use letters, numbers and symbols in your insecure password, and you should be 100% safe really as long as no one else knows the pw.

  • Good points, I tested them, here are some thoughts. Regarding su, is important to check that root's password is locked. Otherwise su root is possible from a non-sudoer account. Editing /etc/pam.d/su (described here) is maybe a good idea for extra protection. I don't use SSH to grant access to my computer but I'll leave this recommendations linked for future reference. I'm (still) in sane levels of paranoia, I think we can skip the extremely exotic dangers.
    – berbt
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 12:35

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