department menu

Frequently Asked Questions

Please read information on steps to change your password.  Enrollment is required in order to setup the self service reset challenge questions.

How Will I Know When It's Time to Change My Password?

You will receive email warnings before your password expires. These warnings will be sent on the following days:

  • 30 days to password expiry
  • 14 days to password expiry
  • 7 days to passowrd expiry
  • 1 day to password expiry

What Makes a Valid Password?

All passwords must have the following to be valid:

  • At least eight characters in length; and no more than 18
  • At least one lower case letter
  • At least one upper case letter
  • At least one number
  • Must not contain restricted patterns (for example CSUSM or password) 
  • (NEW) Cannot use words that contain 5 consecutive characters from your old password or username
  • (NEW) Cannot use dictionary words in the new password as defined by the NIST Level 1 standard

There are a number of good schemes for creating valid passwords. You can use a word, but substitute numbers for some of the letters. (Example password:  Spiderman becomes Sp1d2rm3n).  Special characters are allowed in passwords: ~!@#$%^&*_-+=`|(){}[]:;”‘<>,.?/

Programs Affected by Password Change

  • Login and Network
  • All Email
  • Cougar Courses
  • Certain Administrative Databases
  • CougarApps

Why Should I Change My Password, and Where Do I Change It?

We have an obligation to protect information stored on our computer systems from unauthorized access. We require all Faculty and Staff members to change their password every 12 weeks (84 days). All passwords must be at least eight characters in length and no more than 18. It must contain at least one lower case, upper case letter and a number. You must avoid passwords that have 5 consecutive characters from your old password.

What Will Happen If I Don't Change My Password Before It Expires?

If you still have not changed your password by the third warning, your account will be disabled -- you will not be able to log into your computer, your email,, and other systems or items you need to do your job. You will not lose any data if this happens, but you will be unable to log in again if you previously enrolled and filled out the challenge questions form.  Otherwise, contact the Faculty/Staff Help Desk with a photo ID. They will not be able to tell you your former password, but they will be able to assign you a new temporary one. To protect anyone other than yourself from accessing your grade rosters and e-mail, the Help Desk cannot reset your password by phone unless they know you personally.  Nor can they reset your password by email.  The Help Desk can work through your Support Staff Member to verify who you are (over the telephone if we know that person by voice), but the password will be given to your Support Staff Member to give to you.

Can I Share My Password?

No. Sharing passwords is a violation of the Computer Equipment Access Policy.  By sharing your password with anyone, you are giving that person access to your email,, and other confidential resources to which you have been granted access.