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, mobile device, 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
"Passphrase," "passcode" and "PIN" are synonymous terms for password and all provide an identity mechanism. A "key" is sometimes used as a synonym for password; however, this usually refers to a code generated to encrypt and decrypt a message or to unlock software. See PIN
, password manager
, public key cryptography
.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.