Cyber security month tip, week 3: Keep your passwords secure

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This week's cyber security "tip of the week" from ITS focuses on password security.

Your password is often the first line of defense against hackers and unauthorized access to your computer and accounts. Always use good, hard-to-guess passwords and keep your passwords secret.

What is a good, hard-to-guess password?

  • Passwords should be at least eight characters long with a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Passwords that can't be this complex should be at least 10 characters long.
  • Don't use a word found in the dictionary in any language, spelled forward or backward, or a word preceded or followed by a digit (e.g., password1, 1password).
  • Avoid common keyboard sequences, such as "qwerty789" or "abc123."
  • Don't use your login name or personal information that someone could know or find out about you, such as names of family, places, pets, birthdays, address, your car model, etc.
  • Avoid writing passwords down. If you have to write a password down, store it securely--not on your monitor, under your keyboard, in your top desk drawer, or in a file labeled "passwords."
  • Always change initial passwords, password resets, and default passwords the first time you log in. These passwords can be extra vulnerable.
  • Don't let your applications or browser remember passwords that provide access to sensitive systems or data. That way if someone gets into your computer they don't also automatically get into all of your accounts.

UCSC's Password Standards

For questions contact the ITS Support Center:,, 459-HELP.

Additional cyber security information is available on the ITS Security Awareness Web site.