Wartburg updated its password policy to tighten cyber security last week. Many students wonder why the change was necessary.

A recent announcement from Wartburg’s Information Technology Services regarding an update to password requirements had students scratching their heads over the necessity of the change.

According to Chief Information Officer Loni Abbas, the reason is twofold; to allow students to create passphrases that are easier to remember, as well as to prevent hackers from accessing Wartburg College accounts.

“I would say that since I’ve been here, at least once a week we have seen, that we know of, a compromise from a remote location,” said Abbas. “And we have put in some processes to then reset that student’s password, or that staff’s password, and then notify them, and follow up to clean up and make sure that there’s nothing been done inappropriate with their account, or to their account.”

Abbas says that the move from requiring complex passwords of at least eight characters to fifteen characters with no complex character requirements has to do with the advancement of computing technology.

“We’re lengthening it to fifteen, which makes it longer,” said Abbas. “And because of that, you can then have….the passwords only expire once a year. And that’s because it would take that much time for a computer with a computing capacity to be able to hack that with a raw hack.”

Abbas also has advice for keeping online accounts secure.

“It’s best to get something you can actually type easily, that you can remember and you can type easily and that comes to you naturally,” said Abbas. “Make sure that your password for Wartburg is different than you use for other things. Especially anything that’s financial-tied, banking, whatever. If any system you have has the ability to do multi-factor authentication, I would enable that. To make things easier on yourself, use something like a password management tool like LastPass, to save those passwords and have them saved out there. There’s many many systems I have access to, have accounts on, that I don’t even remember the passwords at all, they’re all cached and saved in my LastPass, which has been verified as a secure, encrypted site to keep track of that.”

Time will tell if these efforts will reduce compromised accounts on campus.

If you need to reset your password, be sure to follow the link on the homepage or stop by the ITS help desk on the first floor of the CTC.



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