Password-setting hack yields immediate improvements

This year’s Hacks with Friends honorable mention winner, “Establishing passwords for sponsored affiliates,” was a crash course for ITS interns in their first week on the job, and it led directly to password improvements for sponsored affiliates rolled out just five weeks later.

Previously, sponsored affiliates could not set their own initial passwords. Instead a time-consuming process of setting, communicating, and resetting them had to be used. The Hacks team leveraged the existing password recovery function, allowing affiliated persons to set their password directly.

The hack developed in May was deployed in June, and in the first six weeks, 61% of eligible users took advantage of it. Elizabeth Barrieault, ITS Service Center, says the new streamlined process provides a better first-time interaction with university technology systems. “I consider this a win for security as well, as it minimizes the chance that a password will be shared via insecure means,” she said. Edward Czilli of ICPSR, remarks that this change “has greatly simplified the process for sponsoring Summer Program participants and it has worked flawlessly.”

The interns were equally positive about their experience. “The most challenging part of this hack/project was the terminology,” intern Tamariah Davis said. “I remember the first meeting not understanding anything then feeling like an expert at the end. I enjoyed working on this because it’s important to not only help customers’ experience but workers too.” Frank Wang, another intern on the project, felt that once the problem was well-defined, the solution just presented itself. He added, “It was nice to be focused on a relatively small-scale project to get to know the other staff.” 

This service improvement was developed and released so quickly only because a diverse group of ITS staff came together in the One ITS spirit, rapidly proposing, outlining, and creating a solution to the benefit of the entire U-M community. Asked about the outcome of the hack, Adria Shines replied, “Throughout the Hack, I learned so much from fellow interns, as well as other ITS staff members on the team, including our leader – Victoria Green. I am most happy that this Hack is now live and is helping those who need it.”

Congratulations to the “Establishing passwords for sponsored affiliates” Hacks with Friends Team:

  • Abdulrahman Ateya, UM-Ann Arbor ITS Information Assurance (Intern)
  • Elizabeth Barrieault, UM-Ann Arbor ITS Support Services
  • Kyle Cochrane, UM-Ann Arbor ITS Sec Svcs ID & Access Mgt
  • Tamariah Davis, UM-Ann Arbor ITS Sec Svcs ID & Access Mgt (Intern)
  • Victoria Green (Pitch leader), UM-Ann Arbor ITS Information Assurance
  • Sheila Sanders, UM-Ann Arbor ITS Support Services
  • Adria Shines, UM-Ann Arbor ITS Enterprise App Svcs (Intern)
  • Cindy Wang, UM-Ann Arbor ITS Sec Svcs ID & Access Mgt (Intern)
  • Frank Wang, UM-Ann Arbor ITS Sec Svcs ID & Access Mgt (Intern)

Several ITS Information Assurance staff and interns contributed to this article.

Author: Matt Ranville, Information Assurance

You can contact Matt at