It's time to upgrade your MAC ID password

By Sheldon Smart, April 30, 2013

Like flossing or regular exercise, we know having a strong password is good for us, but many of us often fall short of making it happen. This month, MAC ID users will be required to strengthen their passwords.

To help protect McMaster’s information systems, University Technology Services (UTS) strengthened the rules for MAC ID passwords on February 19, 2013.  As part of the change, all staff, faculty, retirees and alumni must now upgrade their MAC ID passwords. New passwords will be required to meet the higher security threshold and will have to be changed on an annual basis.

“All universities face increasing security challenges and strong passwords are one of the tools we can use to protect our personal information and McMaster’s information,” said Richard Godsmark, IT security manager at McMaster. “Passwords are one thread in the security blanket that we use to protect McMaster.”

Starting  today, MAC ID users are invited to voluntarily upgrade their password. After May 29, 2013 MAC ID account holders who have not changed their password since February 19, 2013 will have their passwords expired and be unable to use MAC ID services until they renew their passwords. The expirations will happen on different days for different users over the course of the next two months.

No Email Messages About Your Password

To prevent phishing attacks, UTS has consistently told users that it will not ask them for password information via email. That policy continues to hold true. UTS will not send you an email when your password expires. Do not trust links in emails purporting to be from UTS directing you to change your password. UTS will communicate these changes through other media, such as the Daily News.

Before Changing your Password

UTS recommends clearing all saved instances of your MAC ID password before changing it. Saved passwords are often found in, for example, email programs on computers and Wi-Fi logins on smartphones. See UTS’s online guide at: www.mcmaster.ca/uts/macid  for additional advice.

How to Change your MAC ID Password

To ease this transition, UTS has prepared an online password change tool at: www.mcmaster.ca/uts/macid. Using this tool, a user can change their password in less than a minute.

Your new MAC ID password must be a minimum of 8 characters in length and must include characters from at least three of the four groups below:

  • Uppercase letters: A, B, C, ... ,Z
  • Lowercase letters: a, b, c, ...,z
  • Numerals: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Symbols: ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + ` - = { } | ] [ \ : " ; < > ? , . / '

Do not use any of your last five previous passwords. Passwords cannot contain your account name or parts of your full name.

If you have any questions, concerns or need assistance changing your MAC ID password, please contact the UTS Service Desk by email at uts@mcmaster.ca or via phone at extension 2-HELP (24357).

Who Needs to Upgrade

All MAC ID passwords established before February 19, 2013 should be upgraded, even if the current password meets the new standard.

The following groups will have their passwords expired if they do not voluntarily upgrade:

  • All MAC ID users excluding students, but including students who are also McMaster employees
  • Holders of “courtesy” and “guest” MAC IDs
  • Alumni and retiree MAC ID account holders

What Services are Affected

MAC ID provides authentication services to more than 50 applications such as the campus Wi-Fi network, LibAccess, UnivMail, McAuth, and the VPN.