Indiana University
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About your IU passphrase

Important: If you have not changed your passphrase in two years, IU requires that you do so. If you do not, your passphrase will expire and you will be unable to log into most IU services. See Why is my IU passphrase expiring?

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Passwords and passphrases

Passwords are short sequences of letters, numbers, and symbols that you enter to verify your identity to a system in order to access secure data or other resources. Passphrases operate on the same principle and are used in the same way, but differ from traditional passwords in two aspects:

  • Passphrases are generally longer than passwords. While passwords can frequently be as short as six or even four characters, passphrases have larger minimum lengths and, in practice, typical passphrases might be 20 or 30 characters long or longer. This greater length provides more powerful security; it is far more difficult for a cracker to break a 25-character passphrase than an eight-character password.

  • The rules for valid passphrases differ from those for passwords. Systems that use shorter passwords often disallow actual words or names, which are notoriously insecure; instead, your password is usually an apparently random sequence of characters. The greater length of passphrases, by contrast, allows you to create an easily memorizable phrase rather than a cryptic series of letters, numbers, and symbols.

For more on passphrases, including hints on making secure passphrases, see the University Information Security Office (UISO) document Passphrases.

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Passphrases at Indiana University

IU requires you to set a Network ID passphrase, which provides access to all of your IU accounts online, including email, Oncourse, Canvas, CAS, and One.IU.

Note: Passphrases are case-sensitive. The lowercase  c  is a different letter from the uppercase  C . Make sure that the Caps Lock key is not on when you create your passphrase, unless you intend to enter all uppercase letters.

Passphrase rules are as follows:

  • Your passphrase must:

    • Contain at least 15 characters (127 characters is the maximum allowed)

      Note: In Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4, passphrases for VPN client software are limited to 31 characters. This problem has been resolved in later versions of the operating system.

    • Use at least four unique characters; letters, numbers, and symbols are allowed (except for the invalid symbols listed below)

    • Use at least four words, with "word" defined as two or more distinct letters

      Note: Words must be separated by one or more spaces or by valid symbols other than the underscore ( _ ); therefore, you can't use numbers, letters, the underscore ( _ ), or any invalid symbols to separate "words"; for example:

      • This passphrase contains four "words", with a space, a dollar sign ( $ ), and a dash ( - ) functioning as separators, and therefore meets the requirements for a valid passphrase: little pink$houses-4unme
      • This passphrase contains only three "words" separated by spaces (the underscore and numbers do not function as separators), and therefore does not meet the requirements for a valid passphrase: HOAGY_car Michael plays123stardust
  • Your passphrase must not:

    • Contain your name or Network ID username

    • Use any of these invalid symbols:

      • The "at" sign ( @ )
      • The hash tag or number sign ( # )
      • The greater-than ( > ) or less-than ( < ) signs
      • The double quotation mark ( " )

    • Be a common phrase; for example: to be or not to be april showers bring may flowers
    • Be based on a predictable pattern, such as the alphabet or the layout of a standard keyboard

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Changing your passphrase

To keep your passphrase secure, you should change it every six months. To change your Network ID passphrase, use the Passphrase Reset tool at:

https://passphrase.iu.edu/

For instructions, see At IU, how do I change my Network ID passphrase?

For more about passphrase security, see At IU, how can I keep my passphrase secure?

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