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Why is a secure password important?

Your network account is required to have a password to keep other people out of your account. On the Whitman College network your password is like a suit of armor, it protects you in many vital areas - it protects your email communications.

If someone else knows your password they will have complete access to every one of your accounts.  They can do everything you can, including deleting your files, reading your email, and accessing your grades and financial information.  They can even mess things up so much you won't be able to log in again.

Never give anyone your password. Ever.  

Also having a secure password is critical to the security of our entire system.  If someone from outside the school gains access to your account, they can use it to maliciously attack the whole system. Your personal password ensures that our shared resources are secure against vandalism and abuses. With this well crafted armor in place you can have a greater degree of confidence in the reliability and security of the Whitman network.

How to choose a secure password

To choose a secure password consider all of the following:

  • Your password must be eight or more characters long. The longer, the better.
  • Your password must contain  at least one of each:
    • lower case letter
    • upper case letter
    • number or symbol. 
  • The system stores your real name along with your username. Because of this, do not to use any part of your real name as your password.
  • Do not use any word found in any dictionary, names, phrases, or quotes as your password. Such words include:
    • Names of family members, names of pets, or any other personal names also make bad passwords.
    • Computer terms, sci-fi buzzwords, common acronyms, or any kind of jargon
    • Any foreign language words or phrases
    Many password cracking programs use the dictionary to try to break in, since this is much faster than trying all combinations of characters. 
  • Appending numbers and symbols to dictionary words also doesn't help, since programs can easily be set to try word1, word2, etc.  Instead you can break up a word with a number or symbol (i.e. de3vi8ce)
  • Avoid simple sequences like '123456' or 'asdf' as a password. People like passwords that are easy to remember and type, but some passwords that meet many of the requirements above are over-used and easily guessed.

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