Montana State University

MSU IT Center

Renne Library Commons
P.O. Box 173240
Bozeman, MT 59717-3240
406-994-1777 |

Chief Information Officer

Jerry Sheehan

Chief Security Officer

Rich Shattuck

Tip of the Month: Don't Share Your Passwords!

Security Tip of the Month graphic

Password Importance

    A password is the front line of defense to any information system. If somebody is able to get access to your account they can use it to steal information, send spam or store illegal files, all in your name! Be sure that in addition to creating strong passwords, you never share them with anybody. Avoid writing down password information and if you ever receive an email requesting your password delete it immediately.

Password Strength

Having a strong password is vital to the protection of any information system. To create strong passwords for work and personal accounts, make sure they always contain:

  • 8 characters or more
  • and include:
  • 1 uppercase letter
  • 1 lowercase letter
  • 1 number
  • 1 special character

Additionally, avoid using any personal information, such as your name, birthdate or the name of a pet.

Password Tools

  • Password management can be tricky. You can quickly find yourself overwhelmed by the number of passwords that you have to remember and maintain. Keeping track of passwords on paper is an incredibly risky and insecure method to use. A better method is to use an encrypted password organizer, such as KeePass. KeePass allows you to encrypt and keep your passwords in a single place and frees you from the worry and risk of storing them on paper.

Password Synchronization

  • It is often possible to make many of your passwords the same, but is that appropriate? It‘s a matter of weighing risk versus convenience. To begin with, you should always keep personal passwords separate from all work passwords. That way if your facebook or Gmail password is compromised, your work passwords remain safe and vice versa.