HP OpenVMS Systems Documentation
OpenVMS User's Manual
2.5 Login Failures
Logins can fail for any number of reasons. One of your passwords might have changed or your account might have expired. You might be attempting to log in over the network or from a modem but be unauthorized to do so. The following table summarizes common reasons for login failure:
The following sections describe the reasons for login failure in more
You cannot log in if the terminal you attempt to use requires a system password and you are unaware of the requirement. All attempts at logging in fail until you enter the system password.
If you know the system password, perform the steps described in
Section 2.2.5. If your attempts fail, it is possible that the system
password has been changed. If you do not know the system password and
you suspect that this is the problem, try to log in at another terminal
or request the new system password.
If you attempt a class of login that is prohibited in your UAF record, your login will fail. For example, your security administrator can restrict you from logging in over the network. If you attempt a network login, you receive a message telling you that you are not authorized to log in from this source.
Your security administrator can restrict your logins to include or
exclude any of the following classes: local, remote, dialup, batch, or
Another cause of login difficulty is failure to observe your shift restrictions. A system manager or security administrator can control access to the system based on the time of day or the day of the week. These restrictions are imposed on classes of logins. The security administrator can apply the same work-time restrictions to all classes of logins or choose to place different restrictions on different login classes.
If you attempt a login during a time prohibited for that login class,
your login fails. The system notifies you that you are not authorized
to log in at this time.
When shift restrictions apply to batch jobs, jobs you submit that are
scheduled to run outside your permitted work times are not run. The
system does not automatically resubmit such jobs during your next
available permitted work time. Similarly, if you have initiated any
kind of job and attempt to run it beyond your permitted time periods,
the job controller aborts the uncompleted job when the end of your
allocated work shift is reached. This job termination behavior applies
to all jobs.
If your login fails and you have attempts remaining, press the Return key and try again. You can do this until you succeed or reach the limit. If the connection is lost, you can redial the access line and start again.
The typical reason for limiting the number of dialup login failures is
to discourage unauthorized users attempting to learn passwords by trial
and error. They already have the advantage of anonymity because of the
dialup line. Of course, limiting the number of tries for each dialup
does not necessarily stop this kind of break-in attempt. It only
requires the perpetrator to redial and start another login.
If anyone has made a number of failed attempts to log in at the same terminal with your user name, the system can respond as though a break-in attempt is in progress. That is, the system concludes that someone is attempting to gain illegal access to the system by using your user name.
At the discretion of your security administrator, break-in evasion measures can be in effect for all users of the system. The security administrator controls how many password attempts are allowed over what period of time. Once break-in evasion tactics are triggered, you cannot log in to the terminal---even with your correct password---during a defined interval. Your security administrator can tell you how long you must wait before reattempting the login, or you can move to another terminal to attempt a login.
If you suspect that break-in evasion is preventing your login and you
have not personally experienced any login failures, contact your
security administrator immediately. Together, you should attempt
another login and check the message that reveals the number of login
failures since the last login to confirm or deny your suspicion of
break-in attempts. (If your system does not normally display the login
message, your security administrator can use the Authorize utility
(AUTHORIZE) to examine the data in your UAF record.) With prompt
action, your security administrator can locate someone attempting
logins at another terminal.
Changing passwords on a regular basis promotes system security. To change your password, enter the DCL command SET PASSWORD.
The system manager can allow you to select a password on your own or can require that you use the automatic password generator when you change your password. If you select your own password, note that the password must follow system restrictions on length and acceptability (see Section 2.2.3).
There is no restriction on how many times you can change your password in a given period of time.
2.6.1 Selecting Your Own Password
If your system manager does not require use of the automatic password generator, the SET PASSWORD command prompts you to enter the new password. It then prompts you to reenter the new password for verification, as follows:
If you fail to enter the same new password twice, the password is not changed. If you succeed in these two steps, there is no notification. The command changes your password and returns you to the DCL prompt.
Even though your security administrator might not require the password
generator, you are strongly encouraged to use it to promote the
security of your system.
If your system security administrator decides that you must let the
system generate the password for you automatically, the system provides
you with a list of password choices when you enter the DCL command SET
PASSWORD. (If your system is not set up to use automatically generated
passwords, you can use them by specifying the SET PASSWORD command with
the /GENERATE qualifier.) The character sequence resembles native
language words to make it easy to remember, but it is unusual enough to
be difficult for outsiders to guess.
In the following example, the system automatically generates a list of passwords made up of random sequences of characters. The minimum password length for the user in the following example has been set to 8 characters in their UAF record.
Note the following about the example:
2.6.3 Generated Passwords: Disadvantages
There are two disadvantages to using generated passwords:
2.6.4 Changing a Secondary Password
To change a secondary password, use the DCL command SET PASSWORD/SECONDARY. You are prompted to specify the old secondary password and the new secondary password, just as in the procedure for changing the primary password. To remove a secondary password, press the Return key when you are prompted for a new password and verification.
You can change primary and secondary passwords independently, but both
are subject to the same change frequency because they share the same
Even if your current password has not yet expired, you can change your password when you log in to the system by including the /NEW_PASSWORD qualifier with your user name. When you enter the /NEW_PASSWORD qualifier after your user name, the system prompts you to set a new password immediately after login.
The following example shows how to change your password when you log in:
2.7 Password and Account Expiration Times
Your system manager can set up your account so that your password, or
the account itself, expires automatically on a particular date and
time. Password expiration times promote system security by forcing you
to change your password on a regular basis. Account expiration times
help to ensure that accounts are available only for as long as they are
As you approach the expiration time of your password, you receive an advance warning message. The message first appears 5 days before the expiration date and at each subsequent login. The message appears immediately below the new mail message and sounds the bell character on your terminal to attract your attention. The message indicates that your password is expiring, as follows:
If you fail to change your password before it expires, you receive the following message when you log in:
The system prompts you for a new password or, if automatic password
generation is enabled, asks you to select a new password from those
listed. You can abort the login by pressing Ctrl/Y. At your next login
attempt, the system again prompts you to change your password.
If secondary passwords are in effect for your account (see
Section 2.2.4), the secondary password expires at the same time as the
primary one. You are prompted to change both passwords. If you change
the primary password and press Ctrl/Y before changing the secondary
password, the login fails. The system does not record a password change.
If the system manager decides not to force you to change your expired password upon logging in, you receive one final warning when you log in after your password expires, as follows:
At this point, if you do not change the password or if the system fails
before you have the opportunity to do so, you will be unable to log in
again. To regain access, see your system manager.
If you need your account for a specific purpose for a limited time only, the person who creates your account may specify a period of time after which the account lapses. For example, student accounts at universities are typically authorized for a single semester at a time.
Expired accounts deny logins automatically. You receive no advance warning message before the account expiration date, so it is important to know in advance your account duration. The account expiration resides in the UAF record, which can be accessed and displayed only through the use of the OpenVMS Authorize utility (AUTHORIZE) by users with the SYSPRV privilege or equivalent---normally, your system manager or security administrator.
When your account expires, you receive an authorization failure message
at your next attempted login. If you need an extension, follow the
procedures defined at your site.
Illegal system accesses involving the use of a correct password are more often traced to disclosure of the password by its owner than to surreptitious discovery. It is vital that you do not reveal your password to anyone.
You can best protect your password by observing the following rules:
2.9 Recognizing System Responses
The system responds to the commands you enter in one or more of the following ways: