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Step Up to Stronger Passwords

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Weak and reused passwords continue to be a common entry point for account or identity takeover and network intrusions. Simple steps and tools exist to help you achieve unique, strong passwords for your accounts.

 A password is often all that stands between you and sensitive data. It’s also often all that stands between a cyber criminal and your account. Below are tips to help you create stronger passwords, manage them more easily, and take one further step to protect against account theft.

  • Always: Use a unique password for each account so one compromised password does not put all of your accounts at risk of takeover.
  • Good: A good password is 10 or more characters in length, with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, plus numbers and/or symbols — such as pAMPh$3let. Complex passwords can be challenging to remember for even one site, let alone using multiple passwords for multiple sites; strong passwords are also difficult to type on a smartphone keyboard (for an easy password management option, see “best” below).
  • Better: A passphrase uses a combination of words to achieve a length of 20 or more characters. That additional length makes it’s exponentially harder for hackers to crack, yet a passphrase is easier for you to remember and more natural to type. To create a passphrase, generate four or more random words from a dictionary, mix in uppercase letters, and add a number or symbol to make it even stronger — such as rubbishconsiderGREENSwim$3. You’ll still find it challenging to remember multiple passphrases, though, so read on.
  • Best: The strongest passwords are created by password managers — software that generates and keeps track of complex and unique passwords for all of your accounts. All you need to remember is one complex password or passphrase to access your password manager. With a password manager, you can look up passwords when you need them, copy and paste from the vault, or use functionality within the software to log you in automatically. Best practice is to add two-step verification to your password manager account. Keep reading!
  • Step it up! When you use two-step verification (a.k.a., two-factor authentication or login approval), a stolen password doesn’t result in a stolen account. Anytime your account is logged into from a new device, you receive an authorization check on your smartphone or another registered device. Without that second piece, a password thief can’t get into your account. It’s the single best way to protect your account from cyber criminals.

Resources

 

One password less

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

We have good news for everyone who struggles to remember a plethora of passwords. Soon there will be one less when we simplify AIS/Tera Term’s login procedure.  

This new development means that you will soon be able to log into sun022, the system which, among others, hosts Tera Term, with your standard network username and password.

Phase one of the process is a “soft roll-out”, where SSO (Same Sign On) will be implemented. During this period, you will still be able to log in with your network username or, until it expires, with your existing AIS username. When your AIS password expires, the IT Service desk will not be able to reset it and you will have to start using your network username and password.

The primary AIS usernames of current AIS users (with more than one AIS username) will be connected to their network username.

After SSO is implemented, newly created AIS users’ usernames will be set to their SU number. This also implies that AIS usernames, roles, and functions will not be reused.

Take note that passwords for these functions should not be shared among staff and that, in doing so, the Electronic Communications Policy is violated. The new SSO approach also means that one password will give also give you access to your private Human Resources information. In other words, if you share your password, you also share your personal information.

For any enquiries, please contact the IT Service desk at 808 4367.

What’s wrong with your password?

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Passwords are an important aspect of computer security and your electronic key to the network of Stellenbosch University. But which passwords work best? 

Lorrie Faith Cranor is a security researcher and an Associate Professor of Computer Science and of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. In March of this year she presented a TED talk on her study of thousands of real passwords to figure out the surprising, very common mistakes that users — and secured sites — make to compromise security.

Watch her very interesting talk on her research on passwords below. After watching Lorrie’s talk you might also want to change your own password. On how to do that and more password tips, have a look at our wiki or make use of the self help function online.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lorrie_faith_cranor_what_s_wrong_with_your_pa_w0rd

Password synchronisation giving you a headache?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Every 90 days you receive an email from helpinfo@sun.ac.za asking you nicely to change your password. We all know that, although it’s a bit of a nuisance, it’s also necessary for security reasons. But is there a way to simplify the process?

In 2007 Microsoft Research conducted a study and found that the average user has 6.5 internet passwords, each person has approximately 25 accounts with passwords and has to enter 8 passwords per day.  And this was in 2007 – imagine what the statistics will look like 5 years later.

If you use more than one device, password changes can become a nightmare. But there are a few steps you can follow to make sure it goes a bit smoother.

Switch off all your devices except for one, for example your laptop.

Sign on at http://www.sun.ac.za/useradm, select the Change Password option and select a new password according to the guidelines supplied on the website. Log out of the network with the Logout option given on http://www.sun.ac.za/useradm. Log onto the network with your new password. Make sure you can access all your network applications – email, internet and networkspace. Switch on all the other devices and type in your new password.

Remember, you can change your password any time at http://www.sun.ac.za/useradm with the Change Password option. Try to stick to the guidelines to ensure you have a secure password – it will safe you a lot of effort and frustration in the long run. If you’ve forgotten your password, you can also reset is by browsing to staff portal.

More information and hints on password changes can be found at https://stbsp01.stb.sun.ac.za/innov/it/it-help/Wiki%20Pages/Change%20password.aspx

Why wait? Change now!

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Every 90 days your pc prompts you to change your password. Which in turn makes you sigh with despair, conveniently ignore the message and postpone  it until the absolute last day. And why? Because choosing a password you won’t forget after two days takes some effort and brain power.

Passwords are like taxes, municipal fees and ridiculous bank fees – frustrating, but necessary. (ok, maybe they’re not all necessary, but you get my point.)

Your best solution? Just change it immediately and you won’t be confronted by a looming “your password expires in x days” message every day. To make the process as fast and painless as necessary, we have a few suggestions.

When your pc prompts you to change your password, go directly to http://www.sun.ac.za/useradm. Before you change your password, log out of your Inetkey and Outlook to make the synchronisation easier. If possible, don’t change your password while connected via wireless. Rather use your network cable and deactivate the wireless.

If you only use your pc at home and it’s not connected to the network, the change of passwords will only apply to your email and Inetkey. The initial password on your pc will therefore not be changed unless it’s on the network. For passwords to synchronise correcly, a pc/laptop has to be connected to one of the US domains.

This week 6.5 million LinkedIn accounts were hacked into and this one again emphasises the necessity for strong passwords.

In particular take note of the following:

  • you can’t use your previous 10 passwords again.
  • your new password can not consist of your username, name or any variation of your current password.
  • your passwords have to consist of 8 or more characters.
  • passwords have to consist of at least 3 characters of the following groups: small caps, capital letters, numbers and special characters. (for example %,$,#)
When you change your password on http://www.sun.ac.za/useradm, also change it accordingly on all your other devices (cellphone, tablet, etc.) If you don’t have your other devices with you and they are connected to the internet at home, ask someone to switch it off for you while your are changing the password. Also immediately switch off your device (pc, tablet or cellphone) after you’ve changed your password successfully to ensure it synchronises successfully.

If you changed your password and it hasn’t updated fast enough on your cellphone or tablet, reset the password to the latest one and contact IT to unlock your account. This will prevent you from having to change your password again.

 

© 2013-2017 Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author(s) and content contributor(s). The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Stellenbosch University.