Never use Math.random() to create passwords in JavaScript

Recently, I've seen articles and tweets that show how to build random password generators with JavaScript. These projects are excellent to get some practice, sure. However, the passwords they create are not secure.

These password generators rely on the Math.random() method, which is not cryptographically secure. It means the pseudo-random number is not really that random, that the random numbers can be predicted and, therefore, it is possible to guess the generated passwords.

It's worth pointing out that JavaScript wasn't originally created to build "serious" applications. Its original purpose was to add just some interactivity and visual effects to web pages.

For that reason, when Math.random() was designed, nobody thought about making it cryptographically secure. it wasn't seen as necessary back then.

Nowadays, the language has evolved and you can now build complex projects with it, but it still has many traces of its past, and these must be kept for compatibility reasons.

How to create secure passwords

On the front end, you can use the crypto.getRandomValues() method to create random numbers that are secure enough. If you're using Node.js, the crypto module has the randomInt() method.

Here's a password generator for the front end, using crypto.getRandomValues():

function generatePassword(length = 16)
{
    let generatedPassword = "";

    const validChars = "0123456789" +
        "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz" +
        "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ" +
        ",.-{}+!\"#$%/()=?";

    for (let i = 0; i < length; i++) {
        let randomNumber = crypto.getRandomValues(new Uint32Array(1))[0];
        randomNumber = randomNumber / 0x100000000;
        randomNumber = Math.floor(randomNumber * validChars.length);

        generatedPassword += validChars[randomNumber];
    }

    return generatedPassword;
}

And this is another generator for Node.js:

const util = require("util");
const crypto = require("crypto");

const randomInt = util.promisify(crypto.randomInt);

async function generatePassword(length = 16)
{
    let generatedPassword = "";

    const validChars = "0123456789" +
        "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz" +
        "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ" +
        ",.-{}+!\"#$%/()=?";

    for (let i = 0; i < length; i++) {
        generatedPassword += validChars[await randomInt(0, validChars.length)];
    }

    return generatedPassword;
}

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