Security and Compliance

Password Standards

Purpose

This standard identifies the minimum password requirements needed to protect Michigan Tech’s data and systems. Passwords are used on University devices and systems to facilitate authentication, i.e., helping ensure that the person is who they say they are. The security of University data is highly dependent upon the secrecy and characteristics of the password. Compromised passwords can result in loss of data, denial of service for other users, or attacks directed at other Internet users from a compromised machine. Compromised passwords can also result in the inappropriate disclosure of private data such as private student data, research participant data, and private employee data.

Scope

These standards apply to all electronic devices and systems connected to the University network including computers, network switches and routers, personal digital assistant devices, laptop computers, password authenticated software, etc.

Standards

The following standards set the minimum requirements for passwords on any University Information Technology (IT) resource:

  • Passwords must have a minimum length of 8 characters or the maximum length the system supports if the system has a maximum password length of less than 8 characters.
  • Passwords must meet at least 3 out of the 4 requirements for quality:
    • At least 1 lower case letter
    • At least 1 upper case letter
    • At least 1 number
    • At least 1 special character (?, *, %, etc.)
  • Users must choose unique passwords that are difficult to guess. Passwords must not:
    • Contain the user’s first name, middle name, last name, or username
    • Be based on a single dictionary word
    • Contain more than 2 repetitive characters (e.g., Mmmmmm1, Ab7777777, etc.)
    • Be a repeat of a password used within the last year
    • Be shared with other users
  • Passwords on sensitive IT systems must be changed, at a minimum, every 90 days.
  • Initial passwords must be unique and provided through a secure manner and changed upon first logon.
  • After multiple unsuccessful consecutive logon attempts (e.g., incorrect passwords)the user’s account may become automatically locked. Users may need to contact the Help Desk for account unlocking or accounts may automatically unlock after a period of time
  • Passwords should never be written down and left in plain sight. If a password must be written down it should be stored in a secured location.
  • Passwords should never be stored electronically in plaintext. A password manager should be used to securely store passwords electronically.
  • Users must log off of applications when done using them.
  • Users must secure workstations when they are away from them. Devices will be subject to lockouts for inactivity after 10 minutes.
  • Users must only use their Michigan Tech ID and password for Michigan Tech systems and services. Users should create a different username and password for external services such as personal email, banks, online stores, personally owned computers, or other systems.
  • Users must report suspected password compromises by contacting the IT Help Desk.
  • Users must change their password if they suspect it has been compromised.

Remote Access Users

Remote access to information technology resources (switches, routers, computers, etc.) and to sensitive or confidential information (social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc.)is only permitted through secure, authenticated and centrally managed access methods.

Related Information

Adherence to password requirements is reviewed as part of the normal University audit procedures. Michigan Tech reserves the right to suspend account holders' access to preserve the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the University's network, systems or information if found in non-compliance.

End of document.

Rev 11/30/16