Setup Code & Password »

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PennKey Setup Codes are temporary identifiers used to log in to the PennKey registration application in order to register a PennKey and password or reset a forgotten PennKey password. Please review Warning about Setup Codes so you don't inadvertently freeze your PennKey or nullify a Setup Code you requested.


I. General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a PennKey and who needs one?
A PennKey is an individual's username within the PennKey authentication system. Paired with an associated password, a PennKey is required to authenticate your identity for access to many of UPHS's networked systems and services.

Who is eligible for a PennKey?
University of Pennsylvania faculty, staff, and students; employees of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

How do I get a PennKey and password?
You establish your PennKey and password online using a PennKey Setup Code to identify yourself. For details on how to get a Setup Code and register your PennKey and password, refer to the information under Get Your PennKey.

I received an error message when I tried to register my PennKey and was unable to complete the process. What should I do?
If you at home, contact your LSP. If you are on a Health System network contact the Help Desk at (215) 662-7474. You may also be able to solve the problem yourself after reviewing descriptions of several common registration errors.

Can I change my PennKey once it's been assigned?
Your PennKey is based on your PennName, a unique identifier that is the basis for usernames on many Penn systems. Thus a request to change a PennKey is, in effect, a request to change your PennName. PennNames can only be changed under the following circumstances:

  • If you have a legal name change
  • If the PennName assigned to you may be deemed offensive
  • If you are being harrassed and need to change your username

I've forgotten my PennKey but I know my PennKey password. How do I find out what my PennKey is?
If you need assistance determining what your PennKey is, please contact PennKey administrator. (Note, however, that no one can retrieve your password for you. If you've forgotten it, you will need to reset it following the instructions at Set/Reset Your Password.)

How long will my PennKey stay active?
Except for Non-Persistent PennKeys, which are issued to individuals with a short-term relationship to the University, PennKeys generally do not expire. Non-Persistent PennKeys expire on the date indicated at the time the key was created, and all PennKeys are subject to suspension or expiration for security reasons.

Having an active PennKey is, however, independent of having authorization to access PennKey-protected services. Authorization is determined by the owners of individual services and may change or be terminated if your job responsibilities change, if you change jobs within Penn, or if you leave the Health System.

How long will my PennKey work for a given Penn computing service?
Your PennKey alone doesn't authorize you to use campus computers or services. It only proves your identity. Authorization is the service owner's decision.

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II. Setup Code & Password Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are PennKey Setup Codes and how do they work?
PennKey Setup Codes are temporary identifiers used to log in to the PennKey application. A Setup Code expires once it's been used or 60 days from the the date of issue, whichever comes first. You need to obtain a Setup Code

  • if you have forgotten your PennKey password and want to reset it, or

  • if you want to register a new PennKey.

Setup Codes are described in detail on the About PennKey Setup Codes page. It's important to review that information so you don't inadvertently cancel your PennKey or nullify a Setup Code.

How do I get a Setup Code?
The various ways you can obtain a Setup Code are described on the About PennKey Setup Codes page.

Can a Setup Code be reused?
No it can't. However, if you used a Setup Code to log in but did not complete the PennKey registration or password reset process, you can use the same Setup Code within 60 days of the date of issue to complete the process for which the Setup Code was issued.

How do I get another Setup Code if I lose mine or it expires?
You can always get a replacement Setup Code by visiting a PennKey administration station. Note that once you request another Setup Code by any means, the previously requested Setup Code is nullified.

When I try to create a password, it still gets rejected because it supposedly contains a dictionary word, though I don't think it does. What's going on?
This is a common and frustrating problem. "Dictionary" does not simply mean a standard English language dictionary -- it also includes foreign language dictionaries and all kinds of specialized dictionaries that hackers use to crack passwords.

For example, the string "xyzzy" is found in a computer dictionary -- it's a term from an early computer game and has found its way into password cracking dictionaries, so it is not a suitable password.

The following approach can be helpful in choosing a strong password: Make up a sentence that's meaningful to you. Then use the first letter of each word as a letter in your password; if you wish, add additional characters to make it more difficult to guess.

  • Start with the phrase such as Orange elephants invade Alaska; film at eleven.
  • Take the first letter of each word as your password: OeiAfae
    (This is an acceptable password; it follows the rules but is hard for someone to guess since it's essentially a random string of characters.)
  • To make the password even harder to guess, add punctuation, numbers, and other non-alphanumeric symbols: OeiA;f@11

I've forgotten my PennKey password. What should I do?
You will need to reset it -- no one can retrieve a forgotten password for you. If you are enrolled in Challenge-Response, you can reset your password online instantly. Otherwise, you will need to obtain a PennKey Setup Code and then reset your password online. For details, see Set/Reset Your Password.

Can my PennKey password be reset manually by a PennKey administrator, or can someone tell me what it is if I forget it?
No. Passwords are stored in the system in encrypted form, and cannot be read by administrative personnel. Only you should ever know what your password is. The only manual operation that an administrator can perform on your PennKey is to issue a Setup Code against it, which effectively freezes it until you reset your password using that Setup Code or another that you subsequently obtain.

How often should I change my PennKey password?
There is no need to regularly change your password. But, if you suspect that someone has learned your password or could easily guess it, then you should change it immediately. See the Set/Reset Your Password page for more information.

I think somebody “stole”, or accidentally found out what my PennKey password is. What should I do?
If you believe that the security of your PennKey password has been compromised, and that someone has or will use it to access your account(s), contact PennKey administrator, or 215-662-7474. They can immediately issue a Setup Code against your PennKey that will effectively “freeze” your PennKey until you can obtain a Setup Code to reset your password.

If you believe that any criminal activity has taken place or will take place, it is strongly recommended that you contact Penn Public Safety at 511 (on-campus) or 215-573-3333 (off-campus).

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