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Creating Good Passwords

Most people use family names and dates to create a password, because it's meaningful and memorable. This is not recommended as these can be easily guessed. Another common approach is to use a favorite word. This is also not a good idea — a computer can list every word in any given language rather quickly.

A good password uses a mix of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters (like #$%^); the longer the password, the better. To create a good password, and one that you can remember, use a technique like the following:

a) Pick a favorite phrase (for example: To be or not to be, that is the question!)

b) Turn it in to an acronym (just use the first letter of each word: tbontbtitq)

c) Add numbers and special characters where possible

  • in this example, each "to" is replaced with "2," one letter is changed to a capital, and special characters are added: 2bon2b<Tit?!
  • note: some programs don't allow special characters in their passwords

Whatever password you choose, don't put it on a sticky note and place it right by the computer or even in a desk drawer! There are lots of password management applications available for computers, pda's, smartphones, etc. My personal preference is a password protected Excel file. Password management systems built into operating systems are also not the best idea as these can be cracked and now the hacker can very quickly collect lots of passwords from lots of computers because they are all in a known, standard location — a spyware program can get on your compter, locate the password file, send it over the interent, and then delete itself in less than a couple of seconds! You'll never know it happened. Be very careful with your passwords.

How to change your password

  • Log in VCAT
  • Click on the Change Password link at the top right of the screen if you are using VCAT1 (Old Look) or the Password link under your userid on the left in VCAT2 (New Look).
  • Enter your new password
  • Hit Save