YTI Career Institute - "Get Out Of The Password Reset Business"

Many higher education institutions choose to address the issue of resetting passwords first, since that simple problem can sap IT resources throughout the year, particularly at the beginning of each semester, when new students and faculty first flood campus systems and can overwhelm help desks. Yet with a self-service password reset tool, users can reset their own passwords safely, securely and quickly around the clock. YTI Career Institute took that route in addressing its issues with password lockout. A private institution of higher education, YTI Career Institute serves some 1,600 students across five campuses in Pennsylvania and Maryland, offering a number of programs including associate degrees in technology and business.

As with many colleges, YTI's IT staff spent way too much time resetting passwords when users forgot them– in fact, that was the top support issue. Requests were handled directly by IT staff via phone and walkup at all hours, and were given top priority. According to YTI's Director of IT, Andrew K. Hipple, his staff reset over 800 passwords the year prior to installing PortalGuard, spending a total of 5.5 weeks. And the system certainly wasn't secure, since staff often kept lists of student passwords on hand to help with quick resets.

"We were looking for a way to get our people off the phones and out with the customers, dealing with real support issues." Hipple says. In short, "we needed to get out of the password-reset business."

YTI selected PortalGuard, from PistolStar Inc., to supply self-resetting password capabilities. Within two months, PortalGuard was installed and working, adding a new step to the login screen of 1,200 lab computers and 400 staff and faculty computers, followed by YTI's portals and other web products. For example, a student-facing portal welcoming users to the student information system was integrated with a simple universal Password Utilities window, as shown below, branded with YTI's logo.

To ensure 100 percent compliance, YTI requires users to enroll in PortalGuard upon first use. When entering the system initially, the user must choose and answer "challenge" questions that will be used to confirm identity during a password reset process, and can choose to supply a mobile phone number for additional authentication; PortalGuard also ensures that proposed passwords are strong.

With PortalGuard installed, account resets dropped from YTI's No. 1 support issue to fifth on the list – with the added benefit that students, faculty and staff can reset passwords themselves at any time, day, night or holiday. PortalGuard also addresses security and compliance issues, since only the user now knows his or her password. As Hipple points out, "requiring strong passwords, and having a system in which the customer manages the password process, ensures that someone on the support desk doesn't accidentally learn someone else's password." With his staff out of the password reset business, Hipple's team is free for more challenging tasks. "For a fraction of a team member's salary, we provide 24x7 password self-service and added value for our customers," Hipple says in summary. "I can't imagine not having this product."