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Powering up passwords provides privacy protection

Compromised accounts and unauthorized access is a major issue for institutions and individuals who use computers or high-tech devices such as smartphones or tablets. The consequences can include the loss of valuable data, identity theft, and privacy breaches.

“One of the ways hackers break into IT systems and devices is by cracking passwords,” says Kevin Macnaughton, acting manager of Client Services and Technology in IT Services. “Weak and commonly-used passwords enable people with malicious intent to gain easy access.”

A password that is difficult to guess, however, makes it more difficult for hackers to break in and often deters them enough to look for another target.

“The more difficult the password, the lower the likelihood that one’s account will become compromised,” says Macnaughton.

To help address this issue, changes have recently been implemented to strengthen UWin account passwords.

Starting December 1, anyone who changes their UWin account password will be required to pick a new password with a minimum length of 10 characters (up from eight) that contains at least one of each of the following:

  • special character (new requirement);
  • uppercase letter (no change);
  • lowercase letter (no change); and
  • numerical digit (no change).

Special characters can include spaces and any other non-alphanumeric characters, such as a dollar sign ($), ampersand (&), or at sign (@).

To learn more about your UWin account or to change your password, visit

Ericka Greenham