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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 ?
But in any language, the watchword remains caution.
Competition was the only watchword - the plan's architect barely hesitated when he realized that a deferral of that magnitude would have increased the federal deficit by a full 2 percent.
The site is being put on sale on behalf of Malcolm Cohen and Shay Bannon of BDO serving as co-administrators of Watchword Limited which is in management.
Consistency has been our watchword for a long time," said Miller, who was also able to report a collective clean bill of health.
Operational effectiveness has to remain the watchword for everything we do and we will continue to learn from our experience," Mr Hammond said in a keynote speech to the Royal United Services Institute in London.
Quantity over quality is very much the watchword on Easter Bank Holiday Monday and this year's racing in Britain is no exception.
Business as usual is the watchword and the cuts in expenses are taking a while to materialise.
But consistency isn't Wade's watchword - five times this season he has produced two or fewer - and Klaasen is even more mercurial.
Echoing Bill Clinton, the Prime Minister said that the watchword for the current crisis could be: "It's the global economy, stupid.
Brevity is hardly their watchword, but with songs this seismic and skull-rattlingly intense, you almost didn't want them to end.
Without a doubt, 'homey' is the watchword this year,'' write the authors.
So it is that shibboleth has come today to mean "catchword or slogan" (Webster's, 1975) or "the criterion, test, or watchword of a party; a party cry or pet phrase" (Webster's, 1913).