Western Nevada CollegeWestern Nevada College Policies

Policy 8-2-4: Network Password Policy

WNC Policy 8-2-4
Procedure: Network Password Policy
Policy No.: 8-2-4
Department: Computing Services
Contact: Coordinator/Director
Policy: Overview

Passwords are an important aspect of computer security. They are the front line of protection for user accounts at WNC. A poorly chosen password may result in the compromise of Western Nevada College's entire network. As such, all WNC employees, faculty, and staff (including contractors and vendors with access to WNC systems) are responsible for taking the appropriate steps, as outlined below, to select and secure their passwords.


The purpose of this policy is to establish a standard for creation of strong passwords, the protection of those passwords, and the frequency of change.


The scope of this policy includes all personnel who have or are responsible for an account (or any form of access that supports or requires a password) on any network system that resides at any Western Nevada College campus or facility, has access to the WNC network, or stores any non-public Western Nevada College information.



All system-level passwords (e.g., root, enable, network admin, application administration accounts, etc.) must be changed on at least a quarterly basis.

All user-level passwords for network accounts are required to be changed at least every 90 days. The new password cannot have been used in the last 9 months.

Network concurrent connections are limited to one (1) unless proof of more connections is shown to be required to do an employee's job.

Users are allowed to change their own password for network access. Password reset grace logins are set at five (5).

Intruder attempt lock outs are set at three (3) attempts at the network level.

Other user accounts (e.g., e-mail, WestNet, etc) should be changed at least every six (6) months.

User accounts with access to the Western Nevada College network must have a unique password from all other accounts held by that user.

Network passwords must not be inserted into email messages or other forms of electronic communication.

All user-level and system-level passwords must conform to the guidelines described below.


General Password Construction Guidelines

Passwords are used for various purposes at Western Nevada College. Some of the more common uses include: user level accounts, web accounts, email accounts, screen saver protection, voicemail password, and local router logins. Everyone should be aware of how to select strong passwords.

Poor, weak passwords have the following characteristics:

The password contains less than eight characters and no more than 20 characters

The password is a word found in a dictionary (English or foreign)

The password is a common usage word such as:

    o Names of family, pets, friends, co-workers, fantasy characters, etc.

    o Computer terms and names, commands, sites, companies, hardware, software.

    o The words "Western Nevada College", "Carson", "WNC" or any derivation.

    o Birthdays and other personal information such as addresses and phone numbers.

    o Word or number patterns like aaabbb, qwerty, zyxwvuts, 123321, etc.

    o Any of the above spelled backwards.

    o Any of the above preceded or followed by a digit (e.g., secret1, 1secret)

Strong passwords have the following characteristics:

Contain both upper and lower case characters (e.g., a-z, A-Z)

Have digits and punctuation characters as well as letters e.g., 0-9, !@#$%^&*()_+|~-=\`{}[]:";'<>?,./)

Are at least eight alphanumeric characters long. The strongest is a passphrase (Ohmy1stubbedmyt0e).

Are not words in any language, slang, dialect, jargon, etc.

Are not based on personal information, names of family, etc.

Passwords should never be written down or stored on-line. Try to create passwords that can be easily remembered. One way to do this is create a password based on a song title, affirmation, or other phrase. For example, the phrase might be: "This May Be One Way To Remember" and the password could be: "TmB1w2R!" or "Tmb1W>r~" or some other variation.

NOTE: Do not use either of these examples as passwords.

Password Protection Standards

Do not use the same password for Western Nevada College accounts as for other non-Western Nevada College access (e.g., personal ISP account, e-mail, benefits, etc.). Where possible, don't use the same password for various Western Nevada College access needs. For example, select one password for the e-mail system and a separate password for the network access system.

Do not share Western Nevada College passwords with anyone, including administrative assistants, colleagues, or work studies. All passwords are to be treated as sensitive, confidential Western Nevada College information.

Don't reveal a password over the phone to ANYONE

Don't reveal a password in an email message

Don't reveal a password to your supervisor

Don't talk about a password in front of others

Don't hint at the format of a password (e.g., "my family name")

Don't reveal a password on questionnaires or security forms

Don't share a password with family members

Don't reveal a password to co-workers while on vacation

If someone demands a password, refer them to this document or have them call the Computing Services Department.

Do not use the "Remember Password" feature of applications (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc).

Do not write passwords down or store them anywhere in your office. Do not store passwords in a file on ANY computer system (including Palm Pilots or similar devices) without encryption.

Change passwords at least once every six (6) months (network passwords must be changed every 90 days).

When changing a password, do not use a password you have used for that system within the last nine (9) months.

If an account or password is suspected to have been compromised, report the incident to Computing Services and change all passwords.

Use of Passwords and Passphrases for Remote Access Users

Access to the Western Nevada College Networks via remote access is subject to the same policy as on-campus employees.


Passphrases are not the same as passwords. A passphrase is a longer version of a password and is, therefore, more secure. A passphrase is typically composed of multiple words. Because of this, a passphrase is more secure against "dictionary attacks."

A good passphrase is relatively long and contains a combination of upper and lowercase letters and numeric and punctuation characters. An example of a good passphrase:


All of the rules above that apply to passwords apply to passphrases.


Any employee found to have violated this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Date Adopted and Dates Revised
Date Adopted March 22, 2011 Dates Revised
Please direct comments about this page to the Assistant to the President
URL: https://www.wnc.edu/policymanual/8-2-4.php
Date Printed: September 15, 2019