Health IS Technology Blog

Password Recovery and Cybersecurity


"Hardware is easy to protect: Lock it in a room, chain it to a desk, or buy a spare. Information poses more of a problem. It can exist in more than one place; be transported halfway across the planet in seconds; and be stolen without your knowledge." ~ Bruce Schneier, author of Protect Your Macintosh

How To Reset Your USF Password

How much attention do you pay to your online security or passwords? If you’re like millions of other active online users then, statistically speaking, you may be protecting valuable personal and professional information with a password that is too simple, short and predictable, already. Yes, I am talking to you, ‘qwerty123’. It’s also quite likely that you’ve forgotten yours for a variety of reasons ranging from ‘I lost the paper it was written down on’ and ‘I didn’t get enough sleep last night’ to my favorite old-school, classic, ‘... I just forgot it’. Don't beat yourself up, it happens to the best of us at times. Usually, during the morning, when the critical C.I.L. or caffeine intake levels have dropped far below optimal thresholds. Such mornings are likely a common denominator in the creation of some of our more convenient to recall but less secure password plans.Poor Password Protocols

NoteIf any of yours are even slightly similar to those within this list of highly common and therefore highly insecure passwords, courtesy of The Telegraph: Technology (2016), then it may be time for a reset!

  • 123456
  • password
  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • 12345
  • 123456789
  • football
  • 12341234567
  • Baseball

So, did your personal password make the list? If so, then you may need to take a moment to go through a quick reset, today. Here's useful set of short, steps to help you reset your USF (HSCNET) password anytime:

USF Health Password Reset Form

  1. Visit https://hsccf.hsc.usf.edu/authenticate
  2. Enter your current credentials (username, password) to login
  3. Follow the guide and enter a new password (twice), as seen on the left here
  4. For assistance you can call  813-974-6288 for the Health IS Help Desk

Alternatively:

  1. Simultaneously, press 'Control', 'Alt', and 'Delete' on your keyboard
  2. Select the ‘Change a Password’ option
  3. If required, type in your login info
  4. Type in your current password, followed by the new password (twice for confirmation)
  5. For assistance you can call 813-974-6288 for the Health IS Help Desk

Cybersecurity

We now rely on our digital applications for everything from the organization of business finances to the storage of valuable health records. And as we continue to work in tandem with technology, we must come to recognize the impact of our own decisions when it comes to personal security in digital spaces. The Internet and everything that we produce within it deserves a degree of respect and requires responsibility equivalent to its power in our world. That doesn't mean you should fear every action that you choose to take, online. But it does mean that, just as in the real world wherein words and actions carry weight, we also have to be considerate of potential consequences from online actions.

If you happen to make a mistake in reality, such as attempting to conceal a spare set of house keys in a fairly common and easy to discover location (e.g. under the welcome mat, etc.), then there's a greater chance for misfortune to strike. Again, leaving a bank card or some personally valuable information behind a weak digital defense, opens a door for those with malicious intentions. However, if you take a moment to slow down, think through your strategies and use the resources around you to become informed enough to exercise good judgment, then you'll be much better off. Start by creating a solid defense (e.g. stronger passwords, etc.) for the various threats that lurk in digital corners.

"Bad passwords are one of the easiest ways to compromise a system. For someone who has a very common, eight-character password, it can literally take less than a second for a computer to go through the possibilities and pull that password out. [...] The best advice here is to shift your thinking from passwords to passphrases. Think about a common phrase that works for you. It’s too long to brute force and also make them unlikely to be in the dictionary," (Last Week Tonight via YouTube, 2015). 

Here's a short list of ten little-known strategies, which you can start adopting at anytime in order to keep your information a little more secure in the virtual sphere: Friends at a table look over their devices

  • Passphrases: Swap from passwords to passphrases (e.g. 'I <3 League Games+Rule Robocraft')
  • Recording: Unplug and/or cover your recording devices (e.g. cameras), when they're not in use
  • Updates: Schedule time to go through essential operating system updates at least once a month
  • Communications: Never open e-mails, attachments or links that are unfamiliar to you
  • Connections: Avoid opting in for the 'auto-connect' option for wireless networks, when asked
  • Purchasing: For e-Commerce transactions, use apps or web sites that include https:// in the URL
  • Files: Encrypt and copy key files onto removable discs or external hard drives for added security
  • Publishing: Think of the Internet as a publisher for things permanently public, not temporarily private
  • Downloads: Read before agreeing to anything, particularly if it involves a download
  • Socializing: Be thoughtful about what you share in social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc.). These are potential gold mines for identity thieves

You can also make note of the resources that are available to help victims immediately following any missteps such as, IdentityTheft.gov, a site designed to serve victims of the all too common problem of identity theft. But the most important thing to remember is that in the world wide web, information is the most valuable form of currency, so take proactive steps to protect your treasure. 

Progressive Password Protocols

As we forge ahead deeper and deeper into the digital future it's likely that our approach to both passwords and cybersecurity will continue to change with time. For example, you may have seen and heard the beginnings of the biometrics wave. This involves the use of unique biological factors, such as individual fingerprints, retinas, voice and facial features, to identify users and grant access to computer programs and applications. Of course, this also presents new problems, such as the potential damage that accompanies stolen fingerprint patterns.

The cyber world invites us to share and connect in ways that we've never been capable of considering in the past. Have you thought about what an incredible privilege it is to be alive during a time when you can see the streets of Tokyo and nearby galaxies via virtual globe and mapping programs, to be able to communicate, connect and play games with friends that are online half a world away, and to be able to learn, develop and explore through the power of virtual reality technologies.

Just think what our predecessors would give to see the things that we will witness in our lifetime and of the incredible foundation of technology we're laying for those that come after us. It's nothing short of inspirational. But it also means that we need to be vigilant in our management of these invaluable technologies, including our approach to the passwords that protect them. As one cybersecurity blog noted, "As insecure as passwords generally are, they're not going away anytime soon.

Every year you have more and more passwords to deal with, and every year they get easier and easier to break. Last year, Ars Technica gave three experts a 16,000-entry encrypted password file, and asked them to break as many as possible. The winner got 90% of them, the loser 62% - in a few hours. You need a strategy," (Schneier, 2015). This is a critical point because it's often the smallest holes, the poorest password or outdated OS in the cybersecurity fence that most compromises any system. So be proactive and stay safe my fellow cyber-surfers, everywhere.

Ultimately, "The common thread is simple: taking security – particularly your password – seriously from the beginning is critical," (Tech Talk, 2012). 

USF Health Information Systems is a comprehensive technology group serving the needs of the Academic Research and Clinical missions. We partner with our customers to deliver agile responsive technology solutions that drive business value and make life better for our students and patients. Be informed at all times by visiting health.usf.edu/is/. You can connect directly via phone by calling (813) 974-6288 or by sending us an email via support@health.usf.edu, after hours.

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Bekah Witten
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Bekah is the content writer for the University of South Florida's Health Information Systems, and a recent graduate from the University of Tampa.