Password Safety Tips

Increasing computer security is a responsibility shared by all members of the Ball State community. Because computer systems and access is spread across all areas of campus, every department and every individual must do their part to maintain a safe environment for conducting the university's academic and business functions.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself and your valuable information. While following these suggestions cannot make your computer completely safe, they can go a long way towards improving the security of your system as well as helping to increase overall computer security.

  1. Do not share your computer account with other users. Except for the case of a shared departmental account, you should not share or disclose your password with any other user.
  2. Create a strong password.

  3. Do not for any reason disclose any passwords through e-mail or over the telephone. If your password is accidentally disclosed to other users change it immediately.

  4. Do not give your password to anyone who calls claiming to need your password to do maintenance on your account. Information Technology Services personnel who might have a legitimate need to access your account can generally do so without having to know your existing password. Should you receive a phone call or e-mail requesting such information, please report the incident immediately to the administrator of that system or by e-mailing with this type of information. If you have questions you may contact the Technology HelpDesk by submitting a ticket at, calling 765-285-1517, or stopping by the Tech Center in BL 101. In the event your password is disclosed for any reason, be sure to change your password immediately.

  5. Do not write down your password. Do not write down your computer password and tape it to your computer monitor, the bottom of your computer keyboard, the bottom of your telephone, or any other place.

  6. Remember to log off your account. Do not walk away from a computer without first logging off the system. Leaving your account logged in, especially in a public area, is one of the primarily ways that users' passwords are compromised. Be sure your account is fully logged off before you leave your work area.

  7. Beware of file attachments to e-mail messages. If you receive an e-mail message with an unexpected attachment, do not open it until you can confirm it is safe. As a first step, check with the sender of the message to verify that they intended to include the attachment. Even Microsoft Word documents or Excel spreadsheets can contain viruses, which are often transmitted via e-mail.

  8. Do not download programs from unknown sources on the Internet. Much of the free software available on the Internet contains viruses, and some can actually allow unauthorized users to gain access to your system without your knowledge. Using only commercial (shrink-wrapped) software from recognized software vendors is the best defense against viruses.

  9. Destroy print-outs of confidential information. Advising reports, grade reports, financial information, or other confidential information that is printed must be either properly secured or shredded. Do not simply throw such printed information in the trash. Computer hackers frequently engage in "dumpster diving" operations in an attempt to recover confidential information that has been carelessly discarded.