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Mason Launches Patriot Pass for Improved Computer Security

Reprinted from the Mason Gazette, January 12, 2009

By Bobbie Ritz, Information Technology Unit

On Jan. 12, the first in a series of new computer security measures mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia will go into effect at Mason.

On that date, faculty and staff with Mason e-mail accounts will be encouraged to use a strong password.

Currently, MESA accounts already require a strong password that expires periodically and must be reset. In the near future, your e-mail password will also expire and need to be reset.

Beginning Jan. 12, the next time you reset your MESA or Mason e-mail account, the passwords will be synchronized and you will be able to use the same password in MESA and Mason e-mail accounts.

In addition, other systems using the e-mail password will change at the same time. A list of the systems affected by these changes can be found at strongpassword.gmu.edu.

This new initiative, Patriot Pass, will provide you with greater security, as well as give you the ability to update or change your password on your own.

When setting up your Patriot Pass, you will be asked to provide answers to at least two “password challenge” questions.

These question-and-answer pairs (such as the name of your elementary school or your first pet’s name) will be the basis for a new “forgot your password” function, which will be implemented at a later date.

Once you set up your “password challenge” questions, you will have the ability to reset your own password without going through the ITU Support Center.

Throughout the coming months, Mason will be working to increase security on a number of other systems.

Your Patriot Pass will allow you access to multiple systems with just one username and one password.