So, it’s mandatory password change day for me today. In line with many organisations, the OU requires its users to change their password at regular intervals – at the moment, every three months/90 days. Also, in pursuit of improved security, they’ve recently reduced the number of unsuccessful login attempts you can make on your account before it locks you out. This has the unfortunate side effect of meaning that when you change your password on your desktop machine, your phone or tablet – sitting quietly in your pocket or handbag – will keep trying to connect using your old password, which will lock you out of your account.
I had a very bad encounter with this issue six months ago when I lost most of a day to it. The problem was made particularly hard to resolve by the fact that we’d just gone over to IP phones connected to our PCs, so when I was locked out of my account, and therefore my PC, I couldn’t phone IT to get them to unlock my account, and had to go to another office some way away to ring them. Which meant the ‘Try now – is it working?’ bits of the conversation had big gaps in the middle while I hung up and scurried back to my desk, then went back to room with the phone, redialled, waited to get through, and then updated the new person at the other end of the line with what’s going on. (Things are better now – I have a direct IP phone on my desk, and these days my office usually has people in it, which means I can borrow a phone from someone if that one’s not working.)
Three months ago – the last time I had to update my passwords – I was aware of the problem, and did it carefully and systematically in just under an hour, with no accidental lockouts! I also kept a sketchy list of what I did. Today I did it again, tweaking the list a bit as I went so I can follow it quickly next time.
Here’s my procedure. I’m posting it mainly to make it really easy for me to find in three months’ time (and I’ll print off a copy and leave it in my desk drawer). It’s obviously only directly relevant to me and my devices, but it might be useful to other OU people or people with a similar setups.