Password Construction Guidelines



The purpose of this guidelines is to provide best practices for the created of strong passwords.


This guideline applies to employees, contractors, consultants, temporary and other workers at Albany State University, including all personnel affiliated with third parties. This guideline applies to all passwords including but not limited to user-level accounts, system-level accounts, web accounts, e-mail accounts, screen saver protection, voicemail, and local router logins.


Passwords are a critical component of information security. Passwords serve to protect user accounts; however, a poorly constructed password may result in the compromise of individual systems, data, or the Albany State University network. This guideline provides best practices for creating secure passwords.

Statement of Guideline

All passwords should meet or exceed the following guidelines. Strong passwords have the following characteristics:

  • Contain at least 10 alphanumeric characters.
  • Contain characters from at least two of the following four types of characters:.
    • English upper case (for example A-Z)
    • English lower case (for example a-z)
    • Contain at least one number (for example, 0-9).
    • Contain at least one special character (for example, !$%^&*()_+|~-=`{}[]:”;'<>?,/).
  • Poor, or weak, passwords have the following characteristics:
    • Contain less than eight characters.
    • Can be found in a dictionary, including foreign language, or exist in a language slang, dialect, or jargon.
    • Contain personal information such as birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, or names of family members, pets, friends, and fantasy characters.
    • Contain work-related information such as building names, system commands, sites, companies, hardware, or software.
    • Contain number patterns such as aaabbb, qwerty, zyxwvuts, or 123321.
    • Contain common words spelled backward, or preceded or followed by a number (for example, terces, secret1 or 1secret).
    • Are some version of “Welcome123” “Password123” “Changeme123”

You should never write down a password

Instead, try to create passwords that you can remember easily. One way to do this is create a password based on a song title, affirmation, or other phrase. For example, the phrase, “This May Be One Way To Remember” could become the password TmB1w2R! or another variation.


Passphrase's generally are used for public/private key authentication. A public/private key system defines a mathematical relationship between the public key that is known by all, and the private key, that is known only to the user. Without the passphrase to unlock the private key, the user cannot gain access. A passphrase is similar to a password in use; however, it is relatively long and constructed of multiple words, which provides greater security against dictionary attacks. Strong passphrase should follow the general password construction guidelines to include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (for example, TheTrafficOnThe101Was*&!$ThisMorning!).


  • Compliance Measurement - The Information Security Team will verify compliance to this policy through various methods, including but not limited to, periodic walk-thru, video monitoring, business tool reports, internal and external audits, and feedback to the policy owner.
  • Exceptions - Any exception to the policy must be approved by the Information Security Team in advance.
  • Non-Compliance - An employee found to have violated this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.


The Chief Information Officer is charged with the responsibility to periodically review the policy and propose changes as needed.


Version History

Date, version number and description of creation or change of the policy
Date Version Description
June 2015 1.0 First release