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Screen Saver Passwords to be Enforced on College Computers

Like any organization that deals with sensitive information, Ithaca College must be in compliance with a variety of security standards. To ensure this compliance, our security practices and policies are regularly reviewed by external auditors, and often result in recommended or mandated changes to our security practices. One such recommendation that the college as a whole has been asked to comply with is the enforcement of screen saver passwords on virtually all college-owned computers.

Going forward, the majority of college computers (with some exceptions noted below*) will automatically activate the screen saver after 15 minutes of inactivity, requiring the login (Netpass) password to be entered to resume use of the system. The new screen saver policy will be implemented on Windows machines beginning Tuesday, May 13th, with Macs to follow in the coming weeks. 

The purpose of the policy is to ensure that users’ systems are not subject to unauthorized access when left unattended for long periods of time while logged into any one of our many systems that store sensitive information. While the college recognizes that all security measures pose some level of inconvenience, a screen saver password is far less inconvenient than the alternative of requiring each of our applications (Homer, Parnassus, Email, Sakai, etc.) to have their own 15-minute inactivity timeout.

*Exceptions to the screen saver password policy:

  • Computers that “auto login” (primarily instructor stations in labs and eClassrooms)
  • Computers that never connect to the main campus network (study centers such as London and Los Angeles, for example) 

TIPS:

  • The screen saver can manually be activated prior to the 15-minute timeout by pressing Windows-L (the Windows key is between Ctrl and Alt at the lower left of most Windows keyboards).
  • There is a brief “grace period” of about 5 seconds when the screen saver is activating. During the grace period you can press the space bar or move the mouse to deactivate the screen saver for another 15 minutes.
  • Note that the screen saver will only activate during periods of inactivity. The screen saver will not activate if you are actively using your computer.

ITS Helpdesk
104 Job Hall
helpdesk@ithaca.edu
274-1000




Originally published in Intercom: Screen Saver Passwords to be Enforced on College Computers.