How secure are YOUR passwords?

Your passwords are only as secure as you make them. Think for a moment about the types of information your passwords are protecting. Anyone who can guess your passwords can access your information or pose as you, and you can be held responsible for anything they might do. How secure are your passwords? – Ask yourself:

  • Do my passwords have at least 8 characters?
  • Are they easy to guess?
  • Do my passwords contain all lower case letters?
  • Have I used any of the following as a password: login name, birthday, phone number, social security number (or part of it), or someone’s name?
  • Have I ever shared a password with others?
  • Am I using the same password for multiple systems?
  • If someone else learned my password, did I change it?
  • When was the last time I changed my passwords?

Here are some simple password rules to follow:

  • DO use at least 7 characters in a password; 8 to 10 characters (or more) would be even better.
  • DO use both upper and lower case, with alphanumeric and special characters.
  • DO use a password that is easy for you to remember, but hard for someone else to guess.
  • DO use a password that you can type quickly, without having to look at the keyboard. Also try to make it difficult for someone to follow if they are watching you type.
  • DO change your passwords frequently – a good rule of thumb is to change them at least every six months. Passwords to sensitive information should be changed more often.
  • DO change passwords or remove access to systems that departing employees have used.
  • DON’T give your passwords to ANYONE. If others need access, they should obtain their own passwords.
  • DON’T write passwords down. This is as good as giving them to anyone who finds them. If you need to write a password down until you can remember it, keep it in a safe place – and then shred it after you have memorized it.
  • DON’T use a name, login name, date, phone number, address, social security number, or any of the sample passwords given below. Also, NEVER use the word “password!”
  • DON’T put a space in your password. Spaces and some special characters may not work in some systems.
  • DON’T use the same password for everything. Use of the same password for more than one system is discouraged.  ALWAYS choose unique passwords to protect sensitive information.
  • DON’T save your password in e-mail clients, Internet browsers, or other online services. It can be relatively easy for others to obtain passwords from inside these programs. Some viruses can also access and distribute passwords.

Tips for choosing good passwords:

  • Choose a line from a song or a phrase that you can remember. Then create a password using upper and lowercase letters and numbers (and symbols if desired) to represent each word. For example: “You eat ice cream for dessert” could be: uEtiCm4d$T
  • Use a keystroke sequence that is easy to remember, but not easy to guess or follow, with numbers or symbols and alternating case, such as: {pO9SdE3 (Try it!)
  • Be creative. Intentionally “twist” or misspell a word, substituting numbers or special characters. For example, “information” could be transformed into: ouT4mA$huN

If you have forgotten a password or need help changing a password for a Fort Hays State University system, contact the CTC HelpDesk for assistance.

For additional information about protecting your FHSU online accounts, see:

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