# InCHIP Password Strength and Security Standards

### I. Introduction

Passwords are an important part of computer security at InCHIP. They often serve as the first line of defense in preventing unauthorized access to campus computers and data. Because of this, it is important to choose passwords that are complex and cryptic enough to prevent others from guessing them or from cracking them with “password cracker” programs. At the same time, it is also important to keep passwords secret and secure so others can’t use them or find them. These Standards are intended to provide information and guidance about how to create good, cryptic passwords and how to keep them secure and confidential. Some of the steps may require additional configuration/setting changes.

Per UConn’s Password Policy, these Standards are required for passwords that provide access to University restricted data. They are recommended as good practices to follow for all passwords even where not required. If the event of a conflict between UConn’s password policy and InCHIP’s password policy, the one that is reasonably considered more secure will supersede the other.

### II. Password Strength Standards – How to create good, cryptic, hard-to-guess-or-crack passwords

REQUIREMENTS
The following requirements are enforced on many InCHIP systems. Passwords that do not meet these requirements or are otherwise found vulnerable by automatic password strength checkers may be rejected.

1. Passwords must be at least 8 characters in length and contain at least 3 of the following 4 types of characters:
• lower case letters (i.e. a-z)
• upper case letters (i.e. A-Z)
• numbers (i.e. 0-9)
• special characters (e.g. !@#$%^&*()_+|~-=\‘{}[]:”;’<>?,./) 2. Passwords for systems or applications that cannot support the above standard must be longer — at least 10 characters in length, if possible — and incorporate the maximum complexity the system or application can support. 3. In addition, passwords must: • Not be a single word found in the dictionary (in any language), whether spelled forwards or backwards, or a single word preceded or followed by a digit (e.g., secret1, 1secret) • Note: It is OK to use real words in passwords as long as you use more than one and still include the different required character types. Modified dictionary words are even better. See “Additional Tips and Hints” below for details. • Not include user name or login name • Not be a common keyboard sequence, such as “qwerty89” or “abc123” • Not be from examples you have seen in print, such as the ones on this page. ADDITIONAL TIPS AND HINTS for creating good, cryptic, hard-to-guess passwords • Longer passwords are better. • Avoid including personal information, names of family, places, pets, birthdays, address, hobbies, license plate number, etc. • Avoid words that are slang, dialect, jargon, etc. • A password consisting of several words separated by spaces can actually be more secure and easier to remember than a more complicated, obscure one. • Basing your password on a phrase that is familiar to you is one way to generate a password that is memorable to you, but obscure to others. For example, “The hills are alive with the sound of music!!” is actually a pretty good password, except for the fact that that it is inconveniently long and published here. A shorter version could be, “Hills! alive! Music!” or, using a variant on the first letter of each word, “ThRawts0m!”. • A few memorable, unrelated words can also be a good password, such as “correct horse battery staple” or, if the system requires additional complexity, “Correct horse battery staple!” • Automatic “password cracker” programs now also check for complete dictionary words in a row, separated by spaces or not, so it’s still always best to modify dictionary words. “The hills are alyve w/the sound of musyc!” is much more secure than “The hills are alive with the sound of music!” It’s also harder to remember, so it’s a trade-off. • Be aware that automatic “password cracker” programs check for common symbol substitutions in words, such as “0” for “o” and “$” for “s”. Simply substituting common symbols for letters in a dictionary word, e.g. “Paw0rd” instead of “Password,” might result in a guessable password even though it technically meets the above requirements. Passwords that are found vulnerable by automatic password strength checkers may be rejected.
• Passwords shouldn’t be too common (Password1 is very common. 2bor!2b is pretty common and is also only 7 characters in length).
• PasswordMeter.com is a handy tool to help gauge the strength of a password.

1. Do not share your passwords with anyone else, or in any way publish them.

• Whenever possible, change passwords to something you can easily remember.
• One way to do this is to create a password from a familiar phrase (see Additional Tips and Hints, above, for more information).
• Once you have a good, strong, memorable password, you can come up with a system to modify it slightly for each system or application. Then you only have to remember your base password and your system.
• If you have to write a password down, try to write it in a way that others won’t be able to decypher — such as using a hint for part of it — and store it securely in a safe, unlikely-to-be-discovered location, e.g., not under the keyboard or on your monitor.
• Passwords can also be securely stored using a variety of free and low-cost “password vault-type” encryption tools. See #5 in this section for details.

3. If you think your password may have been compromised, notify the InCHIP IT or the UConn security office ASAP and your supervisor.

4. Change passwords provided for initial access or password resets as soon as possible. Information for doing this should be provided with the password. If it is not, contact the person or office issuing the password for instructions.

• Important notes:
• Master passwords providing access to these tools must meet the minimum strength and security standards stated in these Standards. For keychains, this is the password used to access the computer.

7. Ensure that passwords are transmitted securely.

• Before you log into something via the web, look for “https” (not http) in the URL to indicate that there is a secure connection. If this is missing, request a secure web page from the service provider that you can use to log in.
• Make sure that any applications you log into on your computer (such as email) are set for secure authentication.

### IV. Additional Requirements for Service Providers

• Passwords provided as initial passwords or password resets also must not be a fixed password or a published/easy-to-figure-out formula that, if discovered, could be used to gain unauthorized access to a system or application.
• Passwords provided for initial access or password resets must be unique.

2. Ensure that end users are aware of the above password strength standards when it is not possible for applications and systems to enforce them technically.

3. Ensure secure transmission and storage of passwords.

4. Instruct users to change passwords provided for initial access or password resets as soon as possible after initial use and provide instructions for doing so. Alternatively, temporary passwords can be set to expire upon initial use.

6. Passwords used for privileged access must not be the same as those used for non-privileged access.

7. Administrator-level access to restricted data, computers or networks must be able to identify the individual performing the access, e.g. via a unique user ID/password and elevated permissions as opposed to utilizing a shared admin or root account.

8. Report potential password security compromises to the InCHIP IT or the UConn security office.

### V. System Requirements and Standards

1. Where possible and applicable, applications and systems must be configured to enforce these password complexity standards.

2. New systems and applications must be able to support the above password strength standards.

3. Systems must be configured to ensure secure transmission and storage of passwords.

4. Passwords provided for initial access and password resets must be set to expire upon initial use, where feasible.

• Additionally, initial passwords must be set to expire after no more than 120 days and password resets must be set to expire after 72 hours when possible to prevent unauthorized account access. Note: This requirement is not intended to imply that passwords must expire periodically. It is, instead, intended to prevent the misuse of initial and temporary passwords.

5. All default passwords for network-accessible devices must be modified.

6. Where possible, systems must be configured to prevent re-submission of previously used passwords.