Posted on Thursday, July 13, 2017

Many people think that a password is simply a string of characters you type to gain access to a computer system. But it is much more than that.

Your password is the key to your account. While your user-Identification (ID) identifies you to the system, your password authenticates or proves to the system that it is actually you.

Why is protecting my password important?
In many systems, passwords are the first and only line of defence. Guessing passwords, as well as automated password-cracking programs, are popular and effective techniques for gaining unauthorized system access. If someone else knows your password, they not only have access to your files, but they can also send e-mail and surf the Internet as you. Worse yet, an intruder may be able to use your account to gain further access to your system, or even break into other systems around the world.

How can I protect my password?

Here are a few simple steps.
1. Pick a good password that can’t be guessed by others.
2. Don’t tell anyone your password.
3. Don’t write your password down and leave it where others can find it.
4. Change your password if you think someone else might know it.
5. Make sure no one is watching you enter your password.

How do I pick a good password?
This list of “Do’s and Don’ts” can help you.
• Do use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
• Do mix the use of upper and lower-case characters.
• Do use a password that is at least six (6) characters long.
• Do change your password every 60 to 90 days.
• Don’t use single words, especially dictionary or slang words, names, or profanity.
• Don’t use words personally associated with yourself (e.g., pets, hobbies, acronyms etc.).
• Don’t use dates, user-IDs, or social insurance, telephone, or licence plate numbers.

Why can’t I tell anyone my password?
First, no one needs to know your password for any reason. That includes your IT support person, security officer, colleague, or supervisor.

Sometimes people share their passwords to save time or be more productive. But sharing your password exposes you to unnecessary risk. You are now responsible and accountable for actions that the other person takes with your password. If you need to share data, use the e-mail system, or public or shared directories.