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More-secure passphrases replace passwords beginning January 29

January 19, 2018

Graphic offers guidance on new password complexity rules at Virginia Tech.

Graphic displays the new password complexity rules in a numberline format, with a minimum length of 12 characters, and increased freedom in the characters used if it is 20 characters or longer.
New passphrases must be at least 12 and not more than 64 characters.

To simplify the user experience and ensure the security of personal data and university resources, the Division of Information Technology is updating account creation and management processes and implementing new password complexity rules on January 29th. The changes will go into effect for each user during their next password reset cycle (required annually). In combination with 2-Factor Authentication, the new passphrase requirement will further extend security.

So why is a passphrase better than a password? For starters, passphrases are typically easier to remember than an artificially complicated collection of symbols and letters (like ‘P@55w0rd’). Each additional character dramatically increases the difficulty of cracking that password – that’s why our best advice is to make your passphrase 20 characters or longer (to a maximum of 64 characters). With passphrases you can use spaces, most punctuation, and upper or lower case -- even a little-known line from your favorite book or song. It still might be a good idea to stay away from ‘Hokie Football is #1’ or other predictable phrases.

Users will also have the option to set their VT Username (PID) and Hokies (O365/Microsoft) passphrases the same, making it possible to have just one passphrase to access most of your university computing resources, including G Suite applications (Gmail, Docs, Drive, etc.)    

There is no need to take any action now — this change will come into effect the next time you are prompted to create or change your password.

This change is part of a larger effort to streamline the processes involved in the creation and management of online accounts. For complete info, visit it.vt.edu/accounts