Improve Your Password Changing Practices

Back in the day, your network credentials were used to logon to your computer, get to your email server, and maybe to access some files or a printer. When you changed your password, if you changed it at all, it made sense to update it on the two or three systems that used it all at once and get it over with.

Now your password is synchronized to untold numbers of cloud platforms, on-premises application servers, VPNs, companion devices, and remote access solutions. Your password authenticates you to your computer and thanks to single sign on (SSO) it also logs you in to Zoom, Microsoft 365, your phone, and Salesforce. Single sign on usually involves an agent application that runs on your company directory servers and updates the other systems when a change is made to your account.

If you are like me you probably dread password change day and want to get it over with as quickly as possible. So you update your computer password when you are prompted and then preemptively logon to your other devices and apps and change them too. It seems prudent to update it everywhere, but our modern cloud connected networks are complicated. The agents that synchronize your password often encounter unresolvable conflicts between your company directory and the passwords that you manually updated. You may end up not being able to logon or lock-out your account.

I have a better experience and am less likely to end up calling the help desk when I wait for the sync agents to do their work. The next time that you are prompted to change your password try this. Only change it on the system that asked. Then wait for the other devices and software to require your new credentials. Some may take days, others may never ask.

Like the infamous CTRL+ALT+DEL, naming the alphanumeric strings we make up to authenticate our identities to our digital systems “passwords” was a mistake made long ago. It causes so much frustration to think of a single word that complies with the complexity requirements that many of us feel like we are losing at Scrabble. It’s no wonder that we forget them the next day. Here’s a tip, use phases like the lyrics from your favorite songs or quotes from movies. They are easier to remember and are actually more secure. Most password fields will allow at least 254 characters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s