The Three W’s of Password Change

Lynnetta Eyachabbe

Hello from National Cyber Security Awareness Month! This is the month we spend chatting with you about ways to keep yourself and the University safe from hackers. We’re sure by now you’ve seen some information about mandatory password changes. We know with change sometimes comes hesitation and we get it–you want to know why! (And maybe who and when as well.) So here goes.


Well, mostly everyone. But to be more precise: anyone who has not updated their OUNetID password since March of 2016. Faculty, staff, students, retirees, and contractors will all need to change their password annually. Be sure to have any devices that use your OUNetID available when you change your password so that you can enter your new password on those as well.


Here’s the thing: even with all the protective measures we have in place, it’s still pretty easy for a hacker to steal your password and compromise any data associated with your accounts. One of the best ways to prevent or remedy this situation is simply to use a new password. Additionally, we’ve seen several phishing attempts lately–we want to make sure your accounts, personal information, and financial information are safe.


We’re asking everyone to update their passwords as soon as possible, but do it at a time that is convenient for you. It may take up to 30 minutes for your new password to take effect on all systems and services. We like the idea of doing it right before you head out for your lunch break.


Lastly, the tips below will help make this change more effective and worthwhile for you. We hope you’ll read them, and more importantly, use them.

  • Make it longer. If you remember nothing else when selecting your new password, please do this: make your new password at least 12 characters long. We require a minimum of 8 characters, but each time you add a character your password gets exponentially stronger.
  • Make it a passphrase. A passphrase is a string of words that are easy for you to remember but hard to decipher for anyone else. Maybe it could be some of your favorite things mixed together with a few numbers or special characters like: FallScarv3sF00tballPi3D0gs!
  • Be original. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts, especially your OU account.
  • Remember it. Disable the “save password” feature in your browser.
  • Decide what’s best for you. When is the best time of year for you to change your password? Beginning of the semester? After OU/TX during Cyber Security Awareness month? Spring semester?

Thank you for helping us protect your account and increasing security at the University of Oklahoma.