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Dear members of the HLS community,

Welcome to the HLS ITS Safe Computing newsletter. Our goal with these quarterly advisories is to raise awareness of security related issues and topics. Should you have any questions on the following, please call ITS at 617-495-0722 or email

Use Strong Passwords – Technology has changed in the last few years. Now it’s time to change the way we think about passwords. The password is the oldest way to identify someone in information technology, with its first use at MIT in 1961. A lot has changed since then, but the basic concept of a password has remained. Password theft happened almost immediately, as researchers helped themselves to more than their allotted portion of computing time. Today’s password thieves have much more nefarious goals. With the stakes higher, we need to adjust with the times and rethink how we use passwords.

  • How to Make a Strong Password 
    • Method 1: Convert a long phrase to a string of characters.  
      • Choose a personal phrase and reduce it to the first letters of each word, working in some numbers, capitalization, and punctuation.
      • Mccic:Iiig,web? -> Mint chocolate chip ice cream: If it isn’t green, why even bother? 
    • Method 2: Choose four random words.
      • Use a large dictionary or a random word generator to select your words. Misspelling a word or peppering punctuation and numbers can help.
      • rubbishConsiderGREEENSwim3
  • Examples of Weak Passwords
    • Four digit years 
      • 19XX, 20XX, other anniversaries or famous years like 1776 or 1066
    • The word “password”
      • pass, password, p@$$word or any variant
    • Sports references
      • footballfan, hockey, gosox
    • Names
      • Pets, spouses, children, grandchildren, celebrities
    • Personal information 
      • Your name, email address, phone number, or social security number
    • Keyboard patterns or sequential numbers
      • qwerty, asdf, 123456

Thank you,

The ITS Team

Please visit the HLS Safe Computing website for more information.