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a sequence of characters used to gain access to a computer system



an established secret word.

In the Soviet armed forces, passwords for each day are established by the garrison commandant for garrison guards on guard duty. The chief of staff of a unit establishes passwords for internal, or unit, guard duty. The password certifies that the guard detail that has arrived as a relief was actually assigned for the purpose or that a person who has arrived with an order has been authorized to do so by the appropriate commander. All persons who know the password must keep it secret. In the Russian Army until the Field Regulations of 1912 were published, passwords were used not only on guard duty but also on outguard duty. Various organizations also use passwords for security purposes. A secret password with a set reply may also be used for identification.


(computer science)
A unique word or string of characters that must be supplied to meet security requirements before a program, computer operator, or user can gain access to data.


Open, Sesame!
formula that opened the door to the robbers’ cave. [Arab. Lit.: Arabian Nights]
by its pronunciation the Gileadites could identify Ephraimite fugitives. [O. T.: Judges 12:4-6]


An arbitrary string of characters chosen by a user or system administrator and used to authenticate the user when he attempts to log on, in order to prevent unauthorised access to his account.

A favourite activity among unimaginative computer nerds and crackers is writing programs which attempt to discover passwords by using lists of commonly chosen passwords such as people's names (spelled forward or backward). It is recommended that to defeat such methods passwords use a mixture of upper and lower case letters or digits and avoid proper names and real words. If you have trouble remembering random strings of characters, make up an acronym like "ihGr8trmP" ("I have great trouble remembering my password").


A secret word or code used to serve as a security measure against unauthorized access to data. It may be used to log onto a computer, network or website or to activate newly installed software in the computer. However, without additional measures such as biometric identification, the computer can only verify the legitimacy of the password, not the legitimacy of the user (see biometrics).

Password, Passphrase, Passcode and Key
The terms "passphrase," "passcode" and "key" are synonyms for password. They all provide an identity mechanism; however, passwords, passphrases and passcodes tend to be user generated. A key usually refers to a code generated by an encryption system or by the vendor of the software the user purchased. See password manager, public key cryptography and NCSC.

Password Tips from the NCSC

CHANGE PASSWORD FREQUENTLY - The longer you use a password, the higher the risk.

USE GOOD PASSWORDS - Don't use persons, places or things that can be identified with you.

DON'T DISCLOSE YOUR PASSWORD - Your password is as valuable as the information it protects.

INSPECT YOUR DATA - If you suspect someone has tampered with your files, report it immediately.

NEVER LEAVE AN ACTIVE TERMINAL UNATTENDED - Always log out or lock your terminal before leaving it.

REPORT SUSPECTED COMPUTER ABUSE - Whether directed against you or not, abuse or misuse of your computer resources only hinders the timely completion of your tasks.
References in periodicals archive ?
Stewart Garrick, Senior Investigator at the NCA, which has told Brits to change passwords in the next fortnight, said: "Our operation has disrupted the system used by the malware to send communications between infected computers, and to the criminals controlling them.
The new Central Password Manager expands this functionality to enable organizations to change passwords automatically on remote machines and then store these new passwords in the Vault, without any human intervention and all according to predefined organizational policy.
And with the need to change passwords frequently, can be a major burden to administrate.
In a HTK published survey of support managers in more than 100 organizations, it was found that 82 percent of the organizations require employees to change passwords at least once a quarter in an effort to increase IT security.
But since it's a challenge to create and remember strong passwords, too many users fall into the habit of using one password for multiple sites and failing to change passwords.
Britain's 36 million desktop computer owners are being warned it is not enough to change passwords.
It is also important to change passwords at least three times a year.
The security scare could allow crooks to access victims' accounts and change passwords.
In addition, network administrators may be too lax or overworked to purge terminated employees from the system, force people to change passwords often or lock out users after a number of failed attempts.
Further, CSPM can change passwords without having to shut down and restart the Java container service.
The ability to automatically change passwords is revolutionary.
Other sites advise users to change passwords without making it impossible to use old ones.