Create a Strong Passphrase

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SummaryHow to create a strong and secure passphrase
AuthorMaintained by Matt Ringh
HelpGet help with this article
StatusUp-to-date for the 2023-2024 school year.

Passphrase Security

You should never give out your Passphrase to anyone. You should never write down your Passphrase. You should never e-mail your Passphrase to yourself for safekeeping. You should only memorize it. If you forget a Passphrase, a member of the tech department can reset it, but it is not possible for us to look up your Passphrase.

If something damaging or inappropriate is done using your account, it will appear as though you committed the action -- whether or not you were in fact involved. The technology department and the school administration will have no choice but to act as if you were the perpetrator. Therefore, you must be extremely diligent in protecting your passwords.

RCS Passphrase

Your RCS account is the username and Passphrase combination you use to log in to any computer on the RCS campus. This combo will also gain you access to your WiFi, Google Apps (gmail, calendar, etc.), Schoology, printing, and all other Riverdale sites.

Passphrase Requirements

We strongly encourage you to make a long passphrase that contains multiple words that are meaningful to you with a few digits thrown in.

The passphrase must:

  • contain 12 or more characters (we recommend longer than the minimum length)
  • not contain your first name, last name or username
  • be different from a previous passphrase you've used at RCS
  • contain at least one lowercase letter, uppercase letter, digit

Expired RCS passwords cannot be reset to a previous password... but you can alter a previous one slightly to make a new one! Adding a number or character to the end is an easy way to accomplish this.

We recommend you use this site to check your Passphrase complexity before setting it: How secure is my Passphrase?

Passphrase Expiration Period

Your Passphrase expires 13 months after you set it. This allows you to return to campus after summer vacation and use the same Passphrase you had before you left.

We warn you via email to change your Passphrase one month prior to expiration. The emails will have a subject line of this form, "RCS domain passphrase for jappleseed27 will expire in 20 days." Whether or not you see the warning, your Passphrase will expire after 13 months.

We strongly recommend that you reset your RCS Passphrase before it expires.

How do I Know if My Passphrase Expired?

Symptoms of this include:

  • Inability to log into our wireless network
  • Inability to log into campus computers
  • Inability to log into myRiverdale, Okta, RCS Gmail, or other RCS online resources

What's a good Passphrase?

Contrary to popular belief, the complexity of your Passphrase is not its most important feature.

Here are the three steps to create a great password:

  1. Make it as long as possible, we recommend more than 15 characters.
  2. Don't make it a word that you can look up in the dictionary
  3. Don't use common substitutions
    • Using a word like password ($ for s, 0 for o) to create a password like p@$$w0rd? Bad idea. Way too easy to crack.

Setting an RCS Passphrase

This is done in myRiverdale. Click here for full instructions.

Necessary next steps

Once you change your RCS Passphrase, you'll need to make some other changes to your devices. For each device you might use, here's what you should check and change:

Laptop vs. RCS Passphrase

If you have a laptop or home computer, you'll have an admin password for it. This may be different from your RCS Passphrase. Resetting one does not reset the other; you'll have to change both if you want them to be the same.

How Can I Get Help?

Still can't log in? Do any of the following:

  • Enter a support ticket @
  • Call x50
  • Visit the Hill System Room (basement of Mow)
  • Visit the River Tech Office
  • Visit the helpdesk on either campus