University of Southern Indiana

Password Security

Why Should I Care About Password Security?

Your login name, or userID, allows you to access the resources and services associated with the University of Southern Indiana's network. If someone else determines your password, they would have full access to your files, your e-mail, personal information, and more. This intruder could modify or destroy your files, send threats via e-mail in your name, or subscribe to unwanted services for which you'd have to pay. A stolen user account could be utilized to expose/steal other network resources within the University. An insecure password can easily wreak havoc in your life. Therefore, all USI faculty, students, and employees (including contractors and vendors with access to USI systems) are responsible for ensuring their accounts are protected by secure passwords.

Password Restrictions/Requirements

  • Password must contain at least 8 characters
  • Password cannot contain your username (John Smith could not use jsmithxxx)
  • Password cannot contain your first or last name
  • Password must contain characters from at LEAST 3 of the 4 categories below
  1. Upper Case Letters: A, B, C..
  2. Lower Case Letters: d, e, f...
  3. Numbers: 1, 2, 3
  4. Special Characters: ~, !, @, #, $, %, ^, &, (, ), +, <, >, ?, /...

GOOD Password examples:
    Temp1434    -has uppercase, lowercase, numbers and 8 characters in length
    MyDogSam! - has uppercase, lowercase, special character and 10 characters in length

 BAD Password examples:
   Abc123    - has 3 categories, but too short in length
   october10 - has only 2 categories- needs uppercase or special character

How to Remember Complex Passwords

It is possible to construct a password that is acceptable and memorable. The following are provided as examples only and should not be used; create your own password unique and memorable to yourself.

  • Creating a "pass phrase" is one way that helps to memorize a complex password. An example of a valid and secure pass phrase might be "Tqbf^0t1D" which is based on the old typing practice sentence "The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog!" Substituting numeric or special characters adds to the complexity of the password making it much more difficult to crack.
  • Use lines from a childhood verse:
    Verse Line: Yankee Doodle went to town
    Password: Ydw2~twn
  • Foods disliked during childhood: 
    Food: rice and raisin pudding 
    Password: r1c&ras1nP
  • My license plate is "880-PTW". That's not acceptable; hackers know that people will use their license plate as a password so it's very easy to scan for passwords which are license plates. So, let's mix it up a bit - "88oh-PtW" is acceptable and is such a minor variation that I ought to be able to remember it.
  • Passwords should never be a word found in a dictionary (even foreign). Instead, use two or more words joined together. Or, use a combination of words and numbers. For example, instead of "dog and cat", use d0g+C4t! In this example, we have used upper and lowercase, numeric, and special characters thus creating a very secure and easy to remember password.

Password Caveats (Should Not)

  • Passwords should not be shared or written down. Treat your password like Kleenex, once shared with a friend don't use it again.
  • Passwords should not be a word found in a dictionary (even foreign).
  • Passwords should not contain any form of your name or userID. Don't use obvious passwords like "password", "guest", "user", or "admin".
  • Don't use personal information, such as names of family members or pets, your date of birth, social security number, or other similar information as part of a password. Since such information may be public, you should not use it in a password, even in combination with other characters.
  • Don't use common words or acronyms; spelled forwards or backwards.

Protecting Yourself Against Password Loss

  • DO NOT record your password on a post-it note stuck to your monitor or slid under your keyboard.
  • If you have a secure location, such as a safe or a locked desk drawer, you may want to store a written copy of your passwords there. DO NOT record your userID in the same location.
  • Log off your computer at the end of the day.
  • Avoid using password-saving features, such as Microsoft's Auto Complete feature.
  • Use a password-protected screen saver if you leave your computer, even for a few minutes.
  • If you think your password has been compromised, change it immediately.
  • Remind everyone in your work area or office to change his or her passwords if someone in the group is suddenly put on disciplinary leave, or is fired.

Writing down your password

There is a rule of thumb in the security community that one should never write down a password. Writing down a password increases the risk of it falling into the wrong hands. However, the practice this document suggests is such that it is often difficult to remember a password. The requirement for remembering more than one password further complicates the situation. If this is the case, then you could record them, but make sure that they are stored in a secure place - white boards, sticky notes on your monitor, and under your keyboard are not considered secure. Passwords should never be recorded with your userID as you would never record your pin number on your bankcard.

Forgotten Passwords

If you have forgotten or are having difficulty with your password, click here for assistance.

If you should have any questions regarding these services, please contact our Help Desk at (812) 465-1080 or by clicking the Contact us link in the top right of this page.

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