Electronic Collaboration Tools and Password Security

Information on password security and ways to collaborate without sharing your password.

Please Don't Share Your MyUWF Password!

It is very important that you do not share your ArgoNet password. Sharing your password allows others to have access to programs, information, files, and University resources that only you and/or a selected group of others should have access to. Mistakes can be made even with the best of intentions, and malicious use of your password can negatively impact the entire University network and the University's reputation. Your password identifies you as a unique user and creates accountability. If you share your password and something goes wrong, the responsible party could appear to be you.

If you have a collaboration need not discussed here, contact either The Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CUTLA), the Academic Technology Center (ATC), or the ITS Help Desk (IHD) for ideas and suggestions. CUTLA is a resource for collaborative strategies for teaching and research, ATC assists with pedagogical and technical solutions related to D2L and the ITS Help Desk helps with general technology issues.

Collaborating without Sharing your MyUWF Password

There are many ways to effectively collaborate to get work done while keeping your password secure. Below are some common collaboration challenges and solutions.

My teaching assistant needs to set up my eLearning course.
Solution: Add your assistant to the eLearning course Classlist, and give him or her the role of guest instructor or TA. Instructions for adding someone to your class can be found in the D2L User Guide.
 My graduate assistant is making edits to a collaborative paper I have saved on my computer.
 Solution: Move your paper to a shared folder on the University H: drive and give your assistant write access to the folder.
 The office manager needs to manage my calendar including my invitations, meetings, and appointments.
 Solution: Share your Google Calendar with the office manager. Video instructions for sharing a calendar are available at YouTube.
 I sometime use temporary employees who need access to University resources.
 SolutionRequest an MyUWF guest account from the ITS Help Desk [The ITS Help Desk is working to fix this link. If you need a guest account, contact ITS at 850.474.2075 or helpdesk@uwf.edu]. Guest accounts can be ready within 24 business hours.
 I want my students to save their completed work to a shared class folder. My teaching assistants and I all need to be able to access the folder.
 Solution A: Create a shared folder on your H: drive. Be sure to give your class and your teaching assistants write access to the folder. 
 Solution BCreate a Google siteshare the site with the class, and have your students upload papers to the site.
 Solution C: Use D2L as a supplemental resource for the course and require students to upload their completed work in a drop box. Teaching assistants can access and comment on this work if they are added to the course as a guest instructor. 
Note: These solutions avoid the problems created by cluttering your e-mail with messages and the risk of lost or deleted e-mail.
 I need to work on a paper with a UWF colleague in another department.
 Solution A: Create a shared folder on your University H: drive and give your colleague write access. 
Solution B: Use Google Docs. Be sure and share the document with your UWF colleague, using Sharing Options in Google Docs. Google Docs allows co-workers to share and work from the same copy of a document (See UWF Google Apps page for more information).
Solution C: Create a Google site and invite your colleague to join the site as a collaborator or co-owner. Google Sites (UWF Google Apps) creates a single location to display information from many sources. You can upload and share documents through a documents page created in the site.
 I need to work on a paper with a colleague at another university.
 Solution A: Use Google Docs. Google Docs (UWF Google Apps) allows colleagues to share and work from the same copy of a document. (If your colleague does not have a Google account, he or she will need to create one.) Google provides instructions for creating a Gmail account.
Solution B: Create a Google site and invite your colleague to join the site as a collaborator or co-owner. Google Sites (UWF Google Apps) creates a single location to display information from many sources. You can upload and share documents through a documents page created in the site. (If your colleague does not have a Google account, he or she will need to create one).Google provides instructions for creating a Gmail account.

Inappropriate Reasons for Sharing Your Password

"I don't really have anything important on the network."

Even though you may not keep private files on the UWF network or care if someone reads your e-mails, the fact that you have an account on the UWF network means that you have been given access to other information that is confidential to the University. This information includes course materials, personal identifying information about students, and University administrative information, including your personal payroll and tax information. As a faculty member, you have access to shared network space that you can write to and that contains data that are important to other members of your department. If your account is compromised, an unauthorized user may use access to your account as a means to access other University files or systems. Such access might even be used to launch an attack on other systems on the Internet. Although these scenarios may seem paranoid, managers of the interconnected and shared world of the Internet must anticipate these scenarios to ensure that your personal information and UWF information is secure from unauthorized access.

"No one I share my password with is malicious."

Your ArgoNet password is a "single sign-on" password which means that one password gives you access to multiple UWF systems. If you share your ArgoNet password, that person can access your e-mail and calendar. He or she can also access the grade submissions system for your courses (and enter and alter grades), your pay stub and W2 earnings statement, access to UWF library online systems and resources, and your test scores and grade calculations in eLearning. Someone with your ArgoNet password could even change your current password to a new password and lock you out of the network. Although a single sign-on is convenient to users, it has associated risks that make sharing this password with others hazardous.

Stories of working relationships "gone bad," pranks and jokes that went awry, and problem situations created by simple curiosity or inexperience with a complex system seem like events that might happen only to others. You can reduce the probability of something negative happening to you or to University data by not sharing your password. There are more secure and more legitimate means for collaborating and getting work done than sharing your password and allowing someone to impersonate you on the network.

"I like my password -- it's easy to remember."

Creating a secure password does not have to be difficult and the password need not be difficult for you to remember. You can create a strong but memorable password by using a "pass-phrase" that is easy for you to recall and changing the phrase into an acronym. For example, a memorable pass-phrase might be "I drive 24 miles to work". Using the first letter of every word and the numbers, the secure password produced by the acronym would be "Id24mtw".

When Someone Asks for Your MyUWF Password

The University will never ask for your MyUWF password via email. University technical support staff may require your MyUWF password to complete service on your computing equipment. Usually you will know the staff person who comes to work on your equipment, but you always have the choice to share or not share your password. If you do not want your password to be shared you can request to be present at the time your equipment is serviced and enter your password yourself. Keep in mind that time delays may occur when it is necessary to coordinate your schedule with that of a technical support person so that you can be present to enter your password.

When you are not present at the time your equipment is serviced, technical support staff are authorized to contact the ITS Help Desk to request your password. Individuals who are selected as technical support staff are carefully screened and trained to ensure the protection of secure information such as passwords. Students who are technical support staff are discouraged from working on the equipment of a faculty person they are taking a class with. They are asked to reassign the work to another support person. The Help Desk maintains a current list of support staff who are authorized to receive passwords and a record is created each time a technician requests a password. If you do not want your MyUWF password to be shared with a technical support person, send an email to helpdesk@uwf.edu.

Creating a Secure Password

When creating a new password, ITS recommends using the pass-phrase methodology. You can change your password from the "My Account" App in MyUWF.

Identifying Phishing Scams

Attempts to trick you into divulging personal information such as your username, password, date of birth, or SSN are commonly referred to as phishing. Here are some tips to identify phishing scams:

  1. Phishing e-mails are sent out to thousands of different e-mail addresses and often the person sending these e-mails has no idea who you are. If you have no affiliation with the company the e-mail address appears to represent, it's fake. For example, if you receive an e-mail from Wells Fargo bank about a problem with your account, but you do not bank at Wells Fargo, this e-mail is a phishing scam.
  2. If you received an e-mail reporting a problem with your account, first check the address from which the e-mail was sent before you respond. If the address does not match the address in the company's web site, the e-mail is fraudulent.
  3. Never follow any links in an e-mail you're uncertain about. Instead phone the company or find the company web site through an Internet search and contact the company directly through links that are known to be valid.
  4. Search suspicious e-mail for typos and awkward language. Many phishers work from outside of the US and are not skilled in the use of written English. You will be surprised by how unprofessional the language in these e-mails is when read carefully.
  5. Be leery of e-mail requests that demand an immediate response or a response by a specific deadline. For example, a request that requires you to log in and change your account information within 24 hours is probably a scam.
  6. Never send personal information via e-mail. A legitimate web site will have a secure, encrypted form for entering this information on its web site. An easy way to tell whether a web site is secure is to look at the URL in the address bar. Secured sites will read HTTPS instead of HTTP. For instance, the sign in page for eBay is https://signin.ebay.com, which tells you that your data are protected.
  7. Periodically clear your browser cache of website cookies, especially if someone else has been using your computer. 
  8. Install and run a current anti-virus program (Windows Defender, McAffee, or Norton). If you suspect system problems, install an anti-virus software such as Ad-Aware for free spyware/malware removal.


If You Receive a Phishing Email

Delete it! If you need help determining whether a web site or e-mail is legitimate, e-mail the ITS Help Desk or call them at 850.474.2075.

If you responded to a phishing scam, it is important to act quickly. If you provided a password, account number, and/or PIN number, immediately notify the organization that manages your account. If you disclosed your UWF ArgoNet password, contact the ITS Help Desk at 850.474.2075.

updated 03/24/15 ecr