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Password Policy

Password Policy

1.0 Overview

Passwords are an important aspect of computer security. Your login ID and password authenticate you as an authorized user of Davenport University's computing environment. A good password policy is key to the University's overall systems security. You need to protect your own files and University resources by choosing a good password and protecting it. A poorly chosen password may result in unauthorized access and/or exploitation of Davenport University’s resources including your email, personal files, and online identity. All users, including contractors and vendors with access to Davenport University systems, 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 Davenport University facility, has access to the Davenport University network, or stores any non-public Davenport University information.

4.0 Policy


4.1 General

  • All system-level passwords (e.g., root, Windows Administrator, application administration accounts, etc.) must be changed on at least an annual basis or when an individual with knowledge of the password leaves the employ of the University.

  • All production system-level passwords must be included in an appropriately protected storage medium for disaster recovery.

  • All user-level passwords (e.g., email, web, desktop computer, etc.) must be changed at least annually.

  • User accounts that have system-level privileges granted through group memberships or programs such as "sudo" must have a unique password from all other accounts held by that user.

  • Where SNMP is used, the community strings must be defined as something other than the standard defaults of "public," "private" and "system" and must be different from the passwords used to log in interactively. A keyed hash must be used where available (e.g., SNMPv2).

  • All user-level and system-level passwords must conform to the guidelines described below.


4.2 Guidelines


A.General Password Construction Guidelines

All users at Davenport University should be aware of how to select strong passwords.

Strong passwords have the following characteristics:

  • Contain at least three of the four following character classes:

    • Lower case characters

    • Upper case characters

    • Numbers

    • “Special” characters (e.g. !@#$%^&*()_+|~-=\`{}[]:";',<.>/? etc.)

  • Contain at least ten characters.


Weak passwords have the following characteristics:

  • The password contains less than ten characters

  • The password is a word found in a dictionary (English or foreign, even if “disguised” by special characters or numbers like “D@v3np0rt” or “birthday56”)

  • 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 "Davenport", "University", "Panther" or any derivation.

    • Birthdays and other personal information such as addresses and phone numbers.

    • Word or number patterns like aaabbb, qwerty, zyxwvuts, 123321, q1w2e3r4, etc.

    • Any of the above spelled backwards.

    • Any of the above preceded or followed by a digit (e.g., panther1, 1panther)

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: "I believe all things are difficult before they are easy!" and the password could be: "Ibatadbtae!" or "1b@t@dbt@e!" or some other variation.

Passphrases are similar to passwords, but are composed of multiple words with spaces between them or without. A good passphrase is relatively long and contains a combination of upper and lowercase letters and numeric or punctuation characters. Two examples of a good passphrase: “Thisisagoodpassphrase!” or "This is a good passphrase!"

(NOTE: Do not use any of these examples as passwords!)

B. Password Protection Standards

  • Always use different passwords for Davenport University accounts from other non-Davenport access (e.g., personal ISP account, option trading, benefits, etc.).

  • Always use different passwords for various Davenport University access needs whenever possible. For example, select one password for systems that use directory services (i.e. LDAP, Active Directory, etc.) for authentication and another for locally authenticated access.

  • Do not share Davenport University passwords with anyone, including administrative assistants or secretaries. All passwords are to be treated as sensitive, confidential Davenport University information.

  • Passwords should never be written down or stored online without encryption.

  • Do not reveal a password in email, chat, or other electronic communication.

  • Do not speak about a password in front of others.

  • Do not hint at the format of a password (e.g., "my family name")

  • Do not reveal a password on questionnaires or security forms

  • If someone demands a password, refer them to this document and direct them to the Information Security Department.

  • Always decline the use of the "Remember Password" feature of applications (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome).

If an account or password compromise is suspected, report the incident to the Customer Support Center: extension 1212 or

C. Application Development Standards

Application developers must ensure their programs contain the following security precautions.


  • Shall support authentication of individual users, not groups.

  • Shall not store passwords in clear text or in any easily reversible form.

  • Shall provide for some sort of role management, such that one user can take over the functions of another without having to know the other's password.

  • Shall support SSO, TACACS+, RADIUS and/or X.509 with LDAP security retrieval wherever possible.


D. Use of Passwords and Passphrases for Remote Access Users

Access to the Davenport University Networks via remote access is to be controlled using either a one-time password authentication, strong password/passphrase, or a public/private key system with a strong password/passphrase.


E. Self-Service Password Reset

Davenport University utilizes a self-service password reset solution to allow users who have forgotten their password to authenticate with alternate credentials to establish their identity and update their password. When utilizing the self-service password reset solution:

  • Be certain to choose appropriate questions with answers that are not widely known or shared on social media platforms.

  • Self-service password reset answers need to be protected in the same manner as passwords themselves, as outlined above.

  • Just like passwords, self-service password reset answers must expire periodically to ensure they stay updated and  relevant.


5.0 Enforcement

Any employee found to have violated this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Password cracking or guessing may be performed on a periodic or random basis by the Information Security Department or its delegates. If a password is guessed or cracked during these exercises, the user/owner will be required to change it.

6.0 Terms and Definitions

Application Administration Account: Any account that is for the administration of an application (e.g., Oracle database administrator).