of Visual Arts is hereinafter referred to as “the company.”


A solid password
policy is perhaps the most important security control an organization can
employ.  Since the responsibility for
choosing good passwords falls on the users, a detailed and easy-to-understand
policy is essential.

2.0 Purpose

The purpose of this
policy is to specify guidelines for use of passwords.  Most importantly, this policy will help users
understand why strong passwords are a necessity, and help them create passwords
that are both secure and useable. 
Lastly, this policy will educate users on the secure use of passwords.

3.0 Scope

This policy applies to
any person who is provided an account on the organization’s network or systems,
including: employees, guests, contractors, partners, vendors, etc.

4.0 Policy


The best security
against a password incident is simple: following a sound password construction
strategy.  The organization mandates that
users adhere to the following guidelines on password construction:

•           Passwords should be at least 8

•           Passwords should be comprised
of a mix of letters, numbers and special characters (punctuation marks and

•           Passwords should be comprised
of a mix of upper and lower case characters

•           Passwords should not be
comprised of, or otherwise utilize, words that can be found in a dictionary

•           Passwords should not be
comprised of an obvious keyboard sequence (i.e., qwerty)

•           Passwords should not include
“guessable” data such as personal information about yourself, your
spouse, your pet, your children, birthdays, addresses, phone numbers,
locations, etc.

Creating and remembering strong passwords does not have to be difficult.  Substituting numbers for letters is a common
way to introduce extra characters – a ‘3’ can be used for an ‘E,’ a ‘4’ can be
used for an ‘A,’ or a ‘0’ for an ‘O.’ 
Symbols can be introduced this way as well, for example an ‘i’ can be
changed to a ‘!.’

Another way to create an easy-to-remember strong password is to think of a
sentence, and then use the first letter of each word as a password.  The sentence: ‘The quick brown fox jumps over
the lazy dog!’ easily becomes the password ‘Tqbfjotld!’.  Of course, users may need to add additional
characters and symbols required by the Password Policy, but this technique will
help make strong passwords easier for users to remember.

4.2 Confidentiality
Passwords should be
considered confidential data and treated with the same discretion as any of the
organization’s proprietary information. 
The following guidelines apply to the confidentiality of organization

•           Users must not disclose their
passwords to anyone

•           Users must not share their
passwords with others (co-workers, supervisors, family, etc.)

•           Users must not write down
their passwords and leave them unsecured

•           Users must not check the
“save password” box when authenticating to applications

•           Users must not use the same
password for different systems and/or accounts

•           Users must not send passwords
via email

•           Users must not re-use

4.3 Change Frequency
In order to maintain
good security, passwords should be periodically changed.  This limits the damage an attacker can do as
well as helps to frustrate brute force attempts.  At a minimum, users must change passwords
every 90 days.  The organization may use
software that enforces this policy by expiring users’ passwords after this time

4.4 Incident Reporting
Since compromise of a
single password can have a catastrophic impact on network security, it is the
userís responsibility to immediately report any suspicious activity involving
his or her passwords to the IT Manager. Any request for passwords over the
phone or email, whether the request came from organization personnel or not,
should be expediently reported. When a password is suspected to have been
compromised the IT Manager will request that the user, or users, change all his
or her passwords.

4.5 Applicability of Other Policies
This document is part
of the organization’s cohesive set of security policies.  Other policies may apply to the topics
covered in this document and as such the applicable policies should be reviewed
as needed.


This policy will be
enforced by the IT Manager and/or Executive Team. Violations may result in
disciplinary action, which may include suspension, restriction of access, or
more severe penalties up to and including termination of employment. Where
illegal activities or theft of company property (physical or intellectual) are
suspected, the company may report such activities to the applicable

6.0 Definitions

A security method used to verify the identity of a user and authorize
access to a system or network.

Password  A sequence of characters
that is used to authenticate a user to a file, computer, network, or other
device.  Also known as a passphrase or

Two Factor Authentication  A means
of authenticating a user that utilizes two methods: something the user has, and
something the user knows.  Examples are
smart cards, tokens, or biometrics, in combination with a password.

Revision History

Revision 2.0, 1/1/2015