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New Password Policy for Treos and BlackBerrys

10 Aug 06

To ensure better security of your data and sensitive University information, effective immediately the University is establishing a stronger security policy for smartphones (Treos and BlackBerrys). This policy will require that all smartphone users who connect to email or data files via the University network must password-protect the smartphone device and establish automatic "Security Timeout" or "Auto Lock" after 20 minutes of inactivity.

This policy is necessary to protect both your private files and any private or sensitive University information that may be stored on your smartphone or in your email. Creating a password — one that is unique to your smartphone — and setting up an automatic timeout are the keys to securing this information. Without a password, if your smartphone is lost or stolen, someone can easily view the files on your mobile device and browse through your email folders, including unread incoming email.

It is relatively simple to establish a password and the 20 minute automatic timeout, so please take the time to do this as soon as possible. Go to http://www.columbia.edu/acis/faq/cellular/pwd-pda.html for instructions. If you would like assistance, call the CUIT Help Desk at 212-854-1919 (8 am -11 pm M-Th, 8 am -7 pm Fri, 10 am -6 pm Sat, 3 pm -11 pm Sun). Over the next few weeks, a member of our CUIT Client Support group will also reach out to you to address any questions.

Note: You will still be able to answer the phone or make a call without entering the password. Note also that if you forget your password, for Treos you can access your device by tapping "Lost Password", but all data on your device will be deleted. For BlackBerrys you have up to 10 attempts to enter the correct password before all data on the device is deleted.

This password policy is part of our ongoing effort to evaluate what steps we can take to strengthen data security at the University while continuing to respect and support the University's mission requiring intellectual freedom and open communication. I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions that you may have to address these objectives.

Candace Fleming
Vice President, Columbia University Information Technology