Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Passwords and Account Security


The start of a new school year is a great time to think about BVSD account security. Everyone plays a part in keeping data safe. We in IT manage the servers that store your data and the networks that transmit your data. But the most powerful and effective way to protect BVSD data is for everyone to have a strong password. Like locking your front door, a strong password will deter thieves, especially those looking for an easy way into your account.

During the past year we had several issues with spammers, who were able to send millions of spam/phishing emails via hacked BVSD accounts. Unfortunately, one of these attacks rendered all BVSD email addresses blocked (blacklisted) for several days. Not only were the individual accounts affected, but all BVSD accounts were unable to send or receive messages outside of BVSD.

Incidents like these can be avoided if we all follow a few simple guidelines. 

Create a Strong Password (now required)
  1. Create a strong password with at least eight characters and a minimum of three of the four characteristics below (this is a new BVSD requirement):
    1. Must have at least one capital letter
    2. Must have at least one lowercase letter
    3. Must have at least one number
    4. Must have at least one symbol
    5. Click Here to change your password now
  2. Change your password every 90 days (planned implementation in January).
  3. Don’t reuse the same passwords.
  4. Don't use repeating digits like 1111, 7777.

Keep Your Password Safe
  1. Don’t share your password with anyone.
  2. Don’t use the same password for multiple services.
  3. Don't send your password in an email or instant message. IT will never ask for your password. Be suspicious of anyone who asks for your password.

Consider Using a Passphrase
An even better way to create a strong password is to create what is called a passphrase. A passphrase can be an entire phrase or an abbreviation of a phrase. For instance, The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog! becomes Tqbfjotld! A passphrase should be:
  1. Known only to you   
  2. A minimum of eight characters    
  3. Hard to guess -- even by someone who knows you well
  4. Easy for you to remember       
  5. Easy for you to type accurately   

Security is a shared responsibility. We need your help to keep BVSD accounts safe and to keep email running smoothly. 

Please chime in on what you think by first logging into this blog (upper right corner) and then responding. 

Thanks, 
Andrew

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