Computing Safety

It is critical that you keep your username and password secure at all times. Anyone who has access to this information can quickly use this information to take advantage of your access, including sending emails out on your behalf. This applies to both faculty staff mail and student email systems. Tips to guard your identity:

Never share your username or password with anyone
Never write your username or password down
Never place your username or password under your keyboard or on your monitor (this makes it too easy for thieves)
Never leave your computer logged in or unattended (Remember: Windows + L will quickly lock your computer)
Never leave your laptop unattended or locked in your car

Creating a Secure Password

The average password can be hacked in under 45 seconds.  Studies have shown that a truly secure password may take years to hack.  As we rely more and more on technology and online resources, it becomes more important that everyone understand the importance of creating a complex password that cannot be easily guessed or hacked by others.  The information below is designed to assist you in creating a complex password.  We strongly recommend that you use this information to make sure that your passwords are complex and are not shared with others. 

How to Create a Complex Password

Tip 1:  Use More than One Word
For instance, instead of just using the name of someone you know, Pat, choose something about that person no one else knows about, for instance, PatLikesCats or PatAndCats.  Now add symbols to your password to make it complex.

Tip 2:  Use Symbols instead of Characters
Many people tend to put the required symbols and numbers at the end of a word they know, for instance, Pat1234.  However, this is relatively easy to hack—the word Pat would be in a lot of dictionaries that include common names; once that is discovered, you’ve left the hacker only four more characters to guess (and relatively easy characters, the first guess would probably work). 

Instead, drop symbols inside the word in ways you recognize.  Most people have their own creative interpretations when it comes to looking at a symbol or number and deciding what it looks like most as a character.  As an example, try substituting @ for A, ! for I, a zero (0) for an O, a $ for an S, a 3 for an E.  With those possibilities, @ll!s0nBe@r, A!!is*nBe0r, @//i$onB3@r are all recognizable, but extremely difficult to hack, even if they are used sequentially.  

Tip 3:  Choose Events or People That Are On Your Mind
To remember a complex password that is constantly changing, pick something that is on your mind; use this as an opportunity to remind yourself about something pleasant (or unpleasant) that is going on in your life, that few people know about.  You won’t be likely to forget the password if it is slightly funny or painful, or just plain memorable.  Make it unique to you.  Be sure to make it a phrase, or at least two words, and continue to slip in your symbols:  J0hn$Gr@du@tion, MyT0eHuRt$,

Tip 4:  Use Phonetics in the Words
In general, password dictionaries used by hackers search for words embedded inside your password.  As mentioned before, don’t hesitate to use the words, but make sure you liberally sprinkle those words with embedded symbols.  Another way is to trump that hacking is to avoid spelling the words properly, or use funny phonetics that you remember well.  For instance, “Want to dance?” could become R0ndaDan$? (If your manager’s name is Ron, you might get a laugh each morning typing this in).  If you are a lousy speller, you are ahead of the game already.

Tip 5:  Don’t be Afraid to Make the Password Lengthy
If you remember it better as a full phrase, go ahead and type it in.  Longer passwords are much harder to hack. 

Tip 6: Use First Letters of a Phrase
To create an easy-to-remember and strong password, begin with a properly capitalized and punctuated sentence that is easy for you to remember. For example: "My son Joe goes to Sunrise Elementary School every day." Next, take the first letter of each word in your sentence, preserving the capitalization used in the sentence. In the example above, "MsJgtSESed" would be the result. Finally substitute some non-alpha characters for some of the letters in the password. You might use "$" to replace an "s" or use a “3” to replace an upper-case letter "E".  After such substitutions the example password above would be "M$JgtS3Sed" — a very difficult password to crack yet a password that is easy for you to remember as long as you remember the sentence on which the password is based.

Do…

  • Take two familiar things and wrap them around a number or special character.  Alter the spelling to include a special character.   Example:   No + Phone +  4  + you = NoFone4u
  • Combine letters, symbols, and numbers that are easy for you to remember and hard for someone else to guess.  
  • Create pronounceable passwords (even if they are not words) that are easier to remember, which lessens the need to write down your password.
  • Try out using the initial letters of a phrase you love, especially if a number or special character is included.

Don’t…

  • Don’t use words from a dictionary (English, Spanish or any other Language)
  • Don’t use easy to use passwords such as “collegis”, “password”, “demo” or “blank”.  In fact, do not try to use these passwords even with special characters.  Example:  Pa$$worD or C011egis.
  • Don’t use personal information such as derivatives of your user ID, names of family members, maiden names, cars, license tags, telephone numbers, pets, birthdays, social security numbers, addresses, or hobbies.
  • Don’t use any word in any language spelled forward or backward.
  • Don’t tie passwords to the month (in other words, don’t use Mayday in May or April-fool in April). 
  • Don’t create new passwords that are substantially similar to ones you’ve previously used.

OIT Help Desk 4444

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