Password Policy

1.0 Overview
Passwords are an important aspect of computer security. They are the front line of protection for user accounts. A poorly chosen password may result in the compromise of Mount Marty College's entire network. As such, all Mount Marty employees, faculty and students are responsible for taking the appropriate steps, as outlined below, to select and secure their passwords.

2.0 Purpose
The purpose of this policy is to establish a standard for creation of strong passwords, the protection of those passwords, and the frequency of change.

3.0 Scope
The scope of this policy includes all individuals who have or are responsible for an account (or any form of access that supports or requires a password) on any system that resides at any Mount Marty facility, has access to the Mount Marty network, or stores any non-public Mount Marty information.

4.0 Policy
4.1 Standard User Accounts

  • Once this policy becomes effective, all users will have a non-mandatory one time password change.
  • Passwords must not be inserted into email messages or other forms of electronic communication.
  • All user-level and system-level passwords must conform to the guidelines described below.

4.2 Admin Level Accounts

  • All Administrator-level passwords (e.g., Help Desk, root, enable, MS Windows admin, application administration accounts, etc.) must be documented and locked at location ITSS director location.
  • All production system-level passwords must be part of the ITSS administered Active Directory Database (with the exception of legacy systems.
  • User accounts that have system-level privileges granted through group memberships must have a unique password from all other accounts held by that user.

4.3 Guidelines
A. General Password Construction Guidelines

Passwords are used for various purposes at Mount Marty College. Some of the more common uses include: user level accounts, web accounts, email accounts, screen saver protection, Webadvisor, FRX, Business Objects and DocEview logins. Since it is very easy to guess or crack certain types of passwords, everyone should be aware of how to select strong passwords.

Poor, weak passwords have the following characteristics:

  • The password contains less than eight characters
  • The password is a word found in a dictionary (English or foreign)
  • The password is a common usage word such as:
    • Names of family, pets, friends, co-workers, fantasy characters, etc.
    • Computer terms and names, commands, sites, companies, hardware, software.
    • The words “Mount Marty College”, “sanjose”, “sanfran” or any derivation.
    • Birthdays and other personal information such as addresses and phone numbers.
    • Word or number patterns like aaabbb, qwerty, zyxwvuts, 123321, etc.
    • Any of the above spelled backwards.
    • Any of the above preceded or followed by a digit (e.g., secret1, 1secret)

Strong passwords have the following characteristics:

  • Contain both upper and lower case characters (e.g., a-z, A-Z)
  • Have digits and punctuation characters as well as letters e.g., 0-9, !@#$%^&*()_+|~-=\`{}[]:”;’<>?,./)
  • Are at least eight alphanumeric characters long.
  • Are not a word in any language, slang, dialect, jargon, etc.
  • Are not based on personal information, names of family, etc.
  • Passwords should never be written down or stored on-line. Try to create passwords that can be easily remembered. One way to do this is create a password based on a song title, affirmation, or other phrase. For example, the phrase might be: “This May Be One Way To Remember” and the password could be: “TmB1w2R!” or “Tmb1W>r~” or some other variation.

NOTE: Do not use either of these examples as passwords!

B. Password Protection Standards
Do not share Mount Marty College passwords with anyone, including administrative assistants or secretaries. All passwords are to be treated as sensitive, confidential Mount Marty College information.

Here is a list of “don'ts”:

  • Don’t reveal a password over the phone to ANYONE
  • Don’t reveal a password in an email message
  • Don’t reveal a password to a friend
  • Don’t talk about a password in front of others
  • Don’t hint at the format of a password (e.g., “my family name”)
  • Don’t reveal a password on questionnaires or security forms
  • Don’t share a password with family members
  • For employees, don’t reveal a password to co-workers while on vacation

If someone demands a password, refer them to this document or have them call the Information Technology Services Systems Administrator or Director of Information Technology.

Avoid using the “Remember Password” feature of applications (e.g., Outlook), where possible.

Again, do not write passwords down and store them anywhere in your office. Do not store passwords in a file on ANY computer system (including Palm Pilots or similar devices) without encryption.

Change passwords on a regular basis (except system-level passwords which must be changed quarterly). The recommended change interval is every six months.

If an account or password is suspected to have been compromised, report the incident to the ITSS Help Desk and change the password.

5.0 Enforcement
Student violations of this policy will be handled by the Dean of Student Affairs, while employee violations will be referred to supervisors or the President or Dean of the College.

6.0 Definitions
Terms Definitions
Active Directory Central user account database
Application Administration Account Any account that is for the administration of an application (e.g., Datatel database administrator, Web administrator).