Screensaver Frequently Asked Questions

WCM is implementing a screensaver with a security feature that requires you to enter your password in order to resume use of the computer once the screensaver activates in order to comply with requirements for good security practices. Below are some frequently asked questions that deal with this topic.

What is a screensaver?

A screensaver is a computer program that can be set to turn on after a period of user inactivity (when you leave your computer). It was first used to prevent damage to older monitors but is now used as a way to prevent viewing of desktop contents while the user is away.

Why must I have a screensaver on my workstation?

If you leave your workstation and do not secure it, you can increase security risk for the following:

  • Other people are able to see the contents of your desktop or use your computer without your permission. This can lead to unauthorized disclosure of proprietary, sensitive or confidential information, which violates compliance regulations and ITS security policies and put the college’s security at serious risk, even if the viewing of the information or computer use is inadvertent.
  • Unscrupulous individuals can use your computer to hack into, breach or otherwise access other sensitive or confidential information resources on the WCM network. As you are responsible for the use of your account, it is better to secure your account so that you are not held responsible for its misuse.
  • WCM is continuing to model its policies after the baseline security policy developed by the Ithaca IT Security Office in conjunction with the IT Security Council, composed of Security Liaisons from the campus units.

Does this affect both Windows and Mac computers?

This change is relevant to all computing environments in WCM, it will affect Windows workstations first starting in late August 2012. For Mac OS machines, this change will occur over the next several months. Please note this if you are a Mac user and do not see this change immediately.

Does this affect my iPhone or iPad?

This change only affects Windows and Mac computers. It currently does not affect iPhone and iPad users, which have separate security features and settings.

How long will it take for the screensaver to turn on?

The screensaver will activate after three hours (180 minutes) of inactivity. For some computers under stricter guidelines, such as those processing credit cards, a stricter policy will activate the screensaver after 15 minutes of inactivity.

How do I get back to my desktop after the screensaver is activated?

In order to regain use of your computer after the screensaver activates, you will need to enter the password used to log into the computer. Simply move the mouse or tap a key to bring up the prompt for your password.

Can I be exempted from this policy?

In limited scenarios, certain computers may be considered for exemption from the screensaver policy with department approval. Please contact your department administrator to discuss any exemption from this policy.

Only certain computers, such as shared exam room workstations, kiosks, and shared research computers dedicated to running instruments can be exempted from the screensaver policy. Individual workstations will not be able to be exempted from this policy as it would not comply with security requirements.

Can I call the Support Desk and ask them to exempt me from the screensaver policy or deactivate my screensaver?

Exemptions to the screensaver policy must go through departmental approval in order to be granted. Please do not contact the Support Desk to deactivate or turn off the screensaver policy for you.

I’m working in a front desk area and my screensaver comes up much more quickly. Can I change the setting for my workstation?

If you are working on a computer that has existing screensaver security policies (e.g., workstations processing credit cards in a front desk area) you will not be able to change the setting for the screensaver in order to comply with existing regulatory requirements.

Is there a way to secure my workstation manually when I’m leaving my desk?

•    For Windows: hold the “Flag” key and then hit the “L” key.
•    For Mac OS: set a Hot Corner to activate the screensaver with your mouse.

Can I make the screensaver come up more quickly?

•    For Windows 7: Right-click on your desktop and navigate to Personalize. Click on the Screen Saver icon. Make adjustments and click the “OK” button.
•    For Windows XP: Right-click on your desktop and navigate to Properties, then click on Screen Saver tab. Make adjustments and click the “OK” button.
•    For Mac OS: Click on the Apple icon and navigate to System Preferences, then Desktop & Screen Saver under Personal. Make adjustments and exit.

Will the screensaver turn off any applications I am running?

No – the screensaver merely prevents access to running applications. The screensaver will not shut down any open applications or processes when it is activated.

Will the screensaver cause me to lose any data I am working on?

No – the screensaver merely prevents access to running applications. The screensaver will not cause you to lose data that you are working on.

I have forgotten my password to get into my system, what should I do?

Please contact Support at 212-746-4878 for assistance with your password. If you have forgotten your password and the screensaver has activated, you may need to reset the machine in order to log into it.

How can I set a new password for my CWID?

Please go to myPassword to set a new password for your CWID.

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