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Password FAQ

HLS Policy:

The HLS policy regarding passwords requires a minimum of 8 characters, an alpha character, a number and a symbol. This page explains how to create a secure passphrase.

Strong and Secure Passwords

Your UserID, authenticated by your password, permits you to access electronic services that are restricted to the HLS community. Besides checking e-mail, you can access High Risk Confidential Information, HLS-provided applications, and more.

Choose a Strong Password

Choose at least 8 characters, from the following character types:
1. Letter (upper or lower case)
2. Numbers
3. Symbols found on your keyboard, such as ! * - () : | / ? ...including blank spaces

Avoid words found in the dictionary, including recognized names such as "Harvard."

Stay away from names or nicknames of people, pets, or places, or personal information that can be easily found out, such as your address, birthday, or hobbies.

  • Don't use your HUID as part of your password.
  • Don't include any of these:  Repeated characters, such as AAA or 555;
  • Alphabetic sequences, such as abc or CBA;
  • Numeric sequences, such as 123 or 321;
  • Common keyboard sequences, such as “qwerty” or “password.”

Use HLS password strength indicator in the password reset utility to see if the passpharse you would like to use is a good one.

Set Your Security Questions

Visit the Password Station page to set up a way for yourself to reset your password via the web, in case you ever forget your password. All you need to do is select four different questions and enter your answers. That way, if you have trouble with your password and can answer the four questions you selected earlier, you will be authorized to set a new password without having to know the existing password.

Keep Your Password Secure

Don't write your password down or store it on your computer. Keep your UserID password different from any other password, so your HUID pin protected information will still be protected even if your other passwords are stolen. Always change your passphrase immediately if you suspect that someone else might have guessed it.

Trouble with Your Password? Get help at the Help Desk, 5-0722 or HLSHELP(

A common problem: Check the "Caps Lock" indicator on your keyboard before typing your password; if the "Caps Lock" key has been pressed, your password might not be recognized. Uppercase and lowercase letters need to be typed exactly the same way every time you use the passphrase.

Password Tips

Your passphrase should be easy for you to remember, but difficult for anyone else to guess.

Invent your own secret passphrase, in addition to simple substitutions, such as replacing the letter 'O' with the number zero. Get creative with mixing numbers, symbols, and uppercase letters in your own way.

A passphrase: can be a line from a favorite song, poem, or speech; the punch line of a joke; a bumper sticker or sports chant. Take the first letter of each word and keep the punctuation, or pick one or two letters or symbols to represent each word, than mix in punctuation and numbers that are meaningful to you.

For Example, a line from the Harvard Fight Song 'Veritas', “ ‘Tis a fun’ral ode we sing to Eli Yale.” Could become ‘TafowstEY. The same is possible for lyrics of your favorite song.

Think how many passwords you could derive from the first words of the Gettysburg Address, "Fourscore and seven years ago": 4*20+7ya or 4sc&7yrsAgo or 87yr.aGo...

Or a famous quote such as Theodore Roosevelt’s, "Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time." could become 9/10Owibwit. Or Nine-10owibwit

Note: You cannot use any of the example passwords shown here.

Last modified: November 06, 2008

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