How To Choose a Password

Your passwords are the keys to many computers, from a bank machine to a multiuser mainframe to a server on a network. Your password helps to prove that you are who you say you are, and ensures your privacy.

Compromised passwords are the means by which most unauthorized (and unscrupulous) people gain access to a system. Someone logging on under your name has access not only to your computer files, but to most of the facilities of the computer system. Since tampering can have far-reaching and serious consequences, it's important to take to heart the following guidelines for choosing a password.

Do choose:

Don't choose:

Mum's the Word

Never tell anyone your password -- not even your system administrator or account manager -- and don't write it down. Make sure you have chosen a password that you can remember. And, finally, change your password at regular intervals

Reprinted from i/s, Vol. 4, No. 9,
May 1989. Revised March 1993.
Copyright C 1993 MIT Information Systems