What do passwords and toothbrushes have in common?

Your password is your entry token into the digital world. eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, FNAL, DESY, and CERN - all ask you for a password to authenticate and prove that you are you. And vice versa. If I know your password, I can impersonate you and use your money to buy from eBay or Amazon, post nasty messages on your Twitter or Facebook profile, or misuse CERN's/DESY's/FNAL's computing facilities in your name!


CERN accounts have been compromised in the past and misused to send spam across the world. Are you keen to delete tens of thousands of return e-mails from your mailbox? It's no fun.

Would you give me your UBS bankcard and its PIN number? Of course not! Please apply the same sensitivity to your digital credentials, i.e. passwords, SSH keys, certificates, CERN card, etc. Beware of attempts to "steal" your password. CERN's computing staff, including the Computer Security Team, will never ask for your password (nor will any other legitimate person at Facebook, FNAL, eBay, etc.). So be wary of malicious e-mails, or other means requesting your password. Never send it via e-mail, and type it only into web interfaces you know and trust.

Remember: Your password should be treated like a toothbrush: do not share it, and change it regularly!

For more on passwords and hints on how to choose a good one, please check here.

If you think your password may have been exposed or stolen, then change it here and inform us.

Of course, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments, please contact the Computer Security team or visit us.

by Computer Security Team