Virginia Tech is asking some 120,000 alumni, faculty, staff, and current students to change passwords for university e-mail addresses and accounts by July 1.

The directive from the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors aims to help protect users, encourage good computing habits, and add another way users can mitigate hackers’ attacks. The decision was based in part on the number of successful password guess attempts by hackers and sophisticated password guessing software in recent years.

As a result, all university account passwords, including those linked to university e-mail, Hokies accounts, PID, and Banner, must be changed prior to July 1. Passwords will also have to be changed a minimum of once each year moving forward.

“This is an opportunity for us to foster a better sense of cyber-security consciousness among the Virginia Tech community,” said Randy Marchany, Virginia Tech’s information technology security officer. “By advocating good computing habits among our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, we can all help protect Virginia Tech’s computers and systems. Strong passwords are an essential part of that effort.”

A website dedicated to the password project has been created to help facilitate the process, and includes tips on creating strong, effective passwords. When it comes to passwords, be unique, and be secure. Visit the site to learn more.

According to Marchany, there are currently more than 1,000 infected computers on the university’s campus. The password change rule, he explained, will help promote the use of strong passwords and help protect university computers and systems.

Users who fail to change their passwords prior to the July 1 deadline will be locked out until they do so. However, the IT Security Office, in concert with University Relations, is mounting a campaign to encourage users to change their passwords as soon as possible and not to wait until the deadline.  

“If everyone waits until the deadline, that could really tax the system and the IT staff,” Marchany explained. “Regardless of that, the sooner they change their password using our new rules, the sooner they can be sure they have a strong password.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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