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Alternatives to Password Sharing

When you share your PennKey password you give others access to everything your PennKey gives you access to though you are still responsible for anything they do in your stead. Sharing passwords is a violation of Penn's Policy on Acceptable Use in the Electronic Computing Environment.

Sometimes people share passwords because they need to delegate activities to others. Rather than share your password, you should find safe ways of delegating work to others. In some cases this can be accommodated simply by asking your Local Support Provider (LSP) or your system administrator to create a new account with the same privileges and access that you have.

Another reason often cited is vacation coverage: someone gives their ID and password to a co-worker while they're away from the office. The proper way to handle this situation is to make prior arrangements for the backup person to obtain a separate account and password, one that grants them only the access they require during vacation and other absences.

Some suggestions for typical university computing services are listed below:

If you use Kerberos (PennKey) authentication on a campus mail server (e.g. on pobox, dolphin, or you can grant people access to your account by listing the authorized PennKeys in your account. The owners of those PennKeys can then access your e-mail account using their own PennKey, but they wouldn't be able to obtain access to any other PennKey-authenticated services by impersonating you. Information regarding this "proxy authentication" has been distributed to LSPs.

With some calendaring software (e.g.; Microsoft Outlook), you can give someone else the ability to maintain your calendar without sharing your account and password.

GRAM - Grant Reporting and Management System
With GRAM, it is not necessary for faculty members to share their PennKey and password with support staff in order to grant them proxy access. Designated individuals can be granted access to projects for specific Principal Investigators.


Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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