Loyola University Chicago

Information Technology Services

Password Standards


These standards cover the minimum password requirements for all electronic devices owned or leased by Loyola that can be protected by a password.


To ensure that all electronic devices are secured by a password of a certain complexity, and to ensure that more sensitive devices have more complicated passwords.


Network Passwords - All network passwords will be a minimum of eight characters long with a maximum length of 20 characters. All network passwords must contain at least one lower case letter and one upper case letter.  Passwords must also be a combination of letters and numbers, letters and symbols or letters numbers and symbols. All network passwords are required to be changed every 180 days. When a network password is changed, Password used must not be any of the passwords you have used within the previous 500 days.

Privileged Passwords - All passwords for accounts, which have additional privileges beyond a normal user must be at least eight characters long and contain at least three character classes (definition in Definitions section below). All privileged passwords are required to be changed every 180 days. No privileged passwords can be based on a word that is found in a dictionary. When a privileged password is changed, it cannot be set to its previous value. Privileged passwords cannot be provided to student workers.

  • Examples of privileged passwords include root, super user, and administrator passwords for servers, databases, infrastructure devices, and other systems.
  • All passwords used to access resources in the High Security (PCI) environment are considered above this level and are thus held to even higher standards (see High Security Accounts section of this policy).
  • Privileged passwords also include application accounts that provide rights beyond those of a typical user.
  • If a user is unsure if a given account is privileged, they must assume that it is.

Non-network Passwords - All devices, which do not use the network to authenticate users, must follow the same password standards as listed under network passwords. Operating systems, which store password history, must store the previous 10 passwords. Operating systems, which do not store password history, must ensure that the new password is different from the previous password.

Mobile device Passwords - All mobile devices used to access Loyola email or other Loyola resources must follow the same password standards as listed under network passwords. If the mobile device cannot be configured to confirm that the password meets those standards, then the user of the mobile device is responsible for choosing an appropriate password.

  • Mobile devices that cannot be configured with a password cannot be used to access Loyola email or Loyola resources.
  • If a mobile device that does not meet these standards must be connected to Loyola email or other Loyola resources, the end user must consult with the Information Security team at DataSecurity@luc.edu to discuss the situation.
  • The Information Security team will advise the end user on the type of password that should be used.

Service Passwords - All passwords used to allow servers to communicate with one another in an automated fashion require stronger passwords as they are infrequently changed. They must be at least 20 characters long, and contain at least two characters from each of the four character classes. Service passwords cannot be provided to student workers.  Service account passwords must be changed whenever the administrator responsible for the account leaves the organization or changes roles.

High Security Accounts - All passwords used on systems that store, transmit or process Loyola Protected Data, per the Data Classification Policy, and Payment Card Data (PCI) will conform to the following password requirements in addition to the Privileged Password requirements:

  • Avoid using dictionary words, people’s names, usernames, special dates or number sequences that can be easily guessed.
  • The password will be changed every 90 days or if there is any suspicion the password could be compromised.
  • New passwords may not be the same as the last four passwords.
  • Accounts will be locked out for thirty minutes after six failed login attempts.
  • First time passwords will be set to a unique value for each user. Passwords will be set to change immediately after first use.
  • Authentication mechanisms are assigned to an individual account and not shared among multiple accounts.
  • Physical and/or logical controls are defined to ensure only the intended account can use that mechanism to gain access.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Increasingly, passwords are the weak link in protecting information and accounts. In addition to following the Password Standard, adding another layer of protection to accounts with 2-step/Multi-Factor authentication where available provides extra protection. This is an emerging requirement for accounts that provide access to restricted data and for privileged accounts, and is required for access to the High Security Network which is only accessible using LSA (VPN).


Exceptions to this policy will be handled in accordance with the ITS Security Policy.


This policy will be maintained in accordance with the ITS Security Policy.


Documents Referenced

Data Classification Policy

ITS Security Policy


Character Classes – There are four character classes available. The four classes are numbers, lowercase letters, uppercase letters, and special characters. Special characters are those characters that can be typed on a computer that do not fall into one of the other three classes.

Student Worker – A student worker is an individual who is enrolled in at least one class at Loyola, is hired in a position that is not eligible for benefits, and works in a temporary capacity. This includes hourly employees and temporary part time (TPT) workers. This does not include permanent part time (PPT) workers or full time employees (FTE).

Exception Example - If a system treats uppercase and lowercase characters as the same, and does not accept special characters, it is impossible to create a privileged password using our standards. In this case, the password would have a length of eight characters (matching the standard) and would contain both characters and numbers (2 classes being as close to the standard of 3 as possible).

Mobile Device – a small computing device, typically small enough to be handheld

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) - a security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transactions typically using a PIN, a one-time password (OTP) sent to the requester's phone or email address, a digital certificate, a fingerprint, or hardware token.


  • April 20, 2007: Initial Policy
  • September 30, 2008: Added "High Security Accounts" standard
  • October 29, 2012: Annual Review for PCI Compliance
  • May 31, 2013: Added strict verbiage to cover the PCI environment
  • August 19, 2014: Annual Review for PCI Compliance, Modified Service Password Section, UISO
  • May 11, 2015: Annual Review for PCI Compliance
  • November 10, 2015: Changed Network Password section to align with current PSS system, removed mandatory erasure for mobile devices, UISO
  • April 15, 2016: Added definition for mobile device, Annual Review for PCI Compliance.
  • August 24, 2016: Added Multi-Factor Authentication section.
  • June 5, 2017: Annual Review for PCI Compliance
  • July 5, 2017: Modified High Security Accounts password requirements
  • June 14, 2018: Removed blackberry statement, annual review for PCI Compliance
  • Author: UISO
  • Version: 1.7