Passwords are the first step in keeping your important data secure. A password verifies that you are who you claim to be, granting only someone who knows the password access to the account or file it is protecting. However, anyone with your password has the ability to impersonate you on the campus network or anywhere on the internet. This allows them to delete your files, read and delete your E-mail, or change your password to prevent you from logging on. Because of this, it is very important that you keep your passwords safe.

Don't Share Your Passwords 

  • Do not give out your password. Thereis no need for anyone else to have your password. 

  • WCTS staff will not ask for your password over email. You may occasionally receive an email that appears to be from WCTS staff asking for your password or other personal information.This is known as a Phishing scam, and you should never respond to such an email. 

  • Memorize your password as soon as possible. If you must write it down, keep it in a safe place and destroy it as soon as you have memorized the password. 

  • Change your password if anyone learns it. As soon as anyone knows your password, the data it protects ceases to be secure. Don't ever share it with anyone--not even friends, family, or spouses. NO ONE ELSE should ever know your password.

Use Different Passwords for Different Accounts

Use different passwords for your different accounts. Having a variety of passwords means that even if someone learns one of your passwords, they still will not have access to your other accounts.

Use Hard-to-Crack Passwords

  • Your password should be at least eight characters long.   
  • Use a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and/or symbols (such as !@$?).
  • Don't include any part of your real name in your password. The system stores your real name along with your username. Names of family members, pets, or any other personal names also make bad passwords.
  • Do not use any word found in the dictionary as your password.  Many password-cracking programs use the dictionary to try to break in since this is much faster than trying all combinations of characters. Foreign Language dictionaries are also used for the same purpose, so avoid words from foreign languages as well. 
  • Appending numbers and symbols to dictionary words also doesn't help much. Programs can easily be set to try word1, word2, etc.
  • Don't include jargon or slang in your password. Computer and sci-fi jargon and acronyms are often used as passwords, so many cracking programs have a jargon dictionary included for words not in the English language. Jargon from other areas (such as legal jargon) is also unsafe.
  • Do not use sequences like "123456" or "asdf" as a password. People like passwords that are easy to remember and type, but these are over-used and easily guessed, even if they meet the requirements above. 

Change Your Password

The longer you keep a password, the more likely it is that someone will learn it and possibly use it for nefarious purposes. It is recommended that you change passwords every 30-60 days for your important accounts.

Saving Your Passwords

In the event that you find yourself swamped with dozens of excellently crafted, and therefore hard-to-remember passwords, it is often prudent to save them somewhere. However, because passwords are the keys to so much important information, it is not advised to write them down. Instead, the use of a Password Keeper allows you to access your passwords in the event of a memory failure, while still keeping them encrypted and secure.

Some benefits and features of Password Keepers include:

  • Storage of as many passwords as needed.
  • The Password Keeper requires a password to gain access to the list.
  • Password keepers typically also allow a pass phrase, using a sentence instead of just a word. 

If you are thinking about getting a Password Keeper, we recommend KeePass. See our video tutorial series for getting started with KeePass

Note: Make sure to keep Password Keeper password in a VERY secure place.

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