Password Policy

Type of Policy: 
Administrative
Effective Date: 
July 2016
Last Revised: 
July 2016
Review Date: 
July 2019
Policy Owner: 
Georgia Tech CyberSecurity
Contact Name: 
Blake Penn
Contact Title: 
Information Security Policy and Compliance Manager
Contact Email: 
blakepenn@gatech.edu
Reason for Policy: 

This policy establishes the minimum requirements for generating and managing Georgia Tech user passwords, or other authentication factors, used by operating systems, applications, databases, and network devices owned by or managed by Georgia Tech. The intent of this policy is to protect access to Sensitive Data, and Georgia Tech systems and networks.

Policy Statement: 

Single factor authentication (i.e. password authentication) or multifactor authentication (i.e. password and token) must be used to authenticate to any system or application which requires unique logon as defined by the Data Access Policy and Data Protection Safeguards Standard. The standards for single factor password authentication and multifactor authentication are defined in the standards section below.

Georgia Tech account users must take all reasonable measures to protect their passwords and accounts. Georgia Tech users must never share their account passwords with anyone, including third party service providers (e.g. Google). Each user is accountable and responsible for any action taken with that user's account and password. If there is a business need to share access to an account, such sharing should be accomplished through system permission delegation.

Exceptions to the requirements of this policy may be requested per the Policy Exceptions policy.

Standards:
General Standards

  • Georgia Tech user account passwords must never be transmitted over the network in a clear text format
  • Passwords must be protected at all times, and measures must be taken to prevent disclosure to any unauthorized person or entity
  • Passwords must be protected during distribution to the end user
  • Temporary passwords must be changed within 24 hours of creation
  • Default passwords for new servers, endpoints, and applications must be changed

Single Factor Password Configuration Standards
Single factor passwords must:

  • Contain at least 11 characters
  • Contain characters from at least three of the following four character classes:
    • Upper case alphabetic (e.g. A-Z)
    • Lower case alphabetic (e.g. a-z)
    • Numeric (e.g. 0-9)
    • Special characters (e.g. .,!@#$%~)
  • Expire every 120 days (365 days for non-interactive service accounts)
  • Be different from the last three passwords selected

Multifactor Password Configuration Standards
When logging into systems or applications that require multifactor authentication, the associated password must:

  • Contain at least 8 characters
  • Contain characters from at least three of the following four character classes:
    • Upper case alphabetic (e.g. A-Z)
    • Lower case alphabetic (e.g. a-z)
    • Numeric (e.g. 0-9)
    • Special characters (e.g. .,!@#$%~)
  • Expire every 365 days
  • Be different from the last three passwords selected

Mobile Device Pin/Password Configuration Standards
When using a mobile device, such as a smart phone or tablet, that requires authentication, the associated password/pin must:

  • Contain at least 4 characters, or
  • Leverage some other form of authentication such as
    • Biometrics (e.g. facial recognition or thumbprint)
    • Pattern code
    • Swipe code
Scope: 

This Institute-wide policy applies to any endpoint, mobile device, or application which requires unique logon as defined by the Data Access Policy and Data Protection Safeguards Standard, as well as all users of those systems.

Policy Terms: 

Endpoint - Desktop computers, laptop computers, workstations, group access workstations, USB drives, small servers, cloud hosted virtual machines, and personal Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Mobile Device - Mobile devices at Georgia Tech include, but are not limited to:

  • Cellular telephones
  • Smart phones (e.g. iPhones, Android Phones, BlackBerrys)
  • Tablet computers (e.g. iPad, Kindle, Kindle Fire, Android Tablets)
  • Wearable Devices (e.g. Google Glass, watch devices)
  • Personal Digital Assistants
  • Any other mobile device containing Georgia Tech data (e.g handheld scanning devices)

Multifactor Authentication – A process for securing access to a given system, such as a network or website, that identifies the party requesting access through several categories of credentials (e.g. password and soft token or password and thumbprint).

Server - Any computer system that hosts a campus unit or institute wide service, or acts as an authoritative source of data for the institute or campus unit.

Single Factor Authentication - A process for securing access to a given system, such as a network or website, that identifies the party requesting access through only one category of credentials (e.g. password).

Enforcement: 
Violations of this policy may result in loss of Georgia Tech system and network usage privileges, disciplinary action, up to and including termination or expulsion as outlined in applicable Georgia Tech Employment policies and the Georgia Tech Student Code of Conduct, as well as personal civil and/or criminal liability.
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