UC Davis faculty, students, staff must upgrade to passphrases

Faculty, students and staff will need to change their UC Davis computing account password to a longer, more secure passphrase by December, a campus directive announced this week.

"New federal minimum passphrase strength requirements are the impetus for this change," states Directive 10-021 signed by Peter M. Siegel, chief information officer for the campus, and vice provost for Information and Educational Technology. Meeting the standard will allow faculty, students and staff to continue using campus accounts to access federal government resources, such as grant applications and federal agency documents.

Passphrases have the same purpose as passwords--to permit access to secure systems. But passphrases allow you to use spaces, a string of words, and additional characters. Passphrases are more flexible and secure than passwords.

If you selected a passphrase after December 2009--because you either created your account since then, or you changed your password (and therefore had to meet the new standards)--you do not need to create a new passphrase.

The passphrases must be at least 12 characters long, and existing passwords will be systematically retired starting in October. See a full explanation, samples, deadlines, and other important information at the Passphrase Change Campaign website.

To update now, go to the UC Davis Computing Accounts Services page, select "Change your passphrase," and follow the instructions.