When assigning passwords, the level of password control should match the level of protection required. Passwords should be required to have a minimum length and include uppercase and lowercase letters combined with numbers and symbols. This is known as a strong password. It is common for a security policy to require users to change their passwords on a regular basis and monitor the number of password attempts before an account is temporarily locked out. These are some guidelines to creating strong passwords:
- Length - Use at least eight characters.
- Complexity - Include letters, numbers, symbols, and punctuation. Use a variety of keys on the keyboard, not just common letters and characters.
- Variation - Change passwords often. Set a reminder to change the passwords you have for email, banking, and credit card websites on the average of every three to four months.
- Variety - Use a different password for each site or computer that you use.
To create, remove, or modify a password in Windows 7 or Windows Vista, use the following path, as shown in Figure 1:
Start > Control Panel > User Accounts
To create, remove, or modify a password in Windows XP, use the following path:
Start > Control Panel > User Accounts > Change an account > click the account to change
To prevent unauthorized users from accessing local computers and network resources, lock your workstation, laptop, or server when you are not present.
Screensaver required password
It is important to make sure that computers are secure when users are away from the computer. A security policy should contain a rule about requiring a computer to lock when the screensaver starts. This will ensure that after a short time away from the computer, the screen saver will start and then the computer cannot be used until the user logs in.
To set the screen saver lock in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, use the following path:
Start > Control Panel > Personalization > Screen Saver. Choose a screen saver and a wait time, and then select the On resume, display logon screen option, as shown in Figure 2.
To set the screen saver lock in Windows XP, use the following path:
Start > Control Panel > Display > Screen Saver. Choose a screen saver and a wait time, and then select the On resume, password protect option.