I often create logins for new employees and then send them an email with their login credentials. While doing so I also CC their manager to let him know his user has been setup.
Is this the right thing to do? Should the manager be CC'd when sending a username and password to the user?

In this case, the employes are part of an operation team who basically process paperwork and things in the database. They do not do anything confidential as such, but of course are responsible for what they do.

  • 4
    Where do you send this e-mail? That is, how does the user access their login credentials in the first place? (That said, I fully agree with @Oded's answer.)
    – user
    Jul 27, 2012 at 7:49
  • 14
    Hopefully A) this password is a random string and B) its only a one time use as sending any credentials in plaintext (let alone storing them) is both stupid and dangerous
    – rickyduck
    Jul 27, 2012 at 9:00
  • If this is a new account, how are they going to log on to pick up the e-mail containing their password? In that situation, sending the initial password to the boss is usually the best option available.
    – keshlam
    May 4, 2016 at 9:19
  • Why do you send them to the new user at all? How are they supposed to retrieve them? It would seem that sending the full credentials to the manager is the only way for the new account holder to receive them, correct? Jun 8, 2016 at 21:23
  • Inform the boss that a new account has been created but do not mail password. And by the way, the password you email MUST be a single use password... Sep 28, 2017 at 12:20

11 Answers 11


You should inform the manager that the credentials were created.

You should not send said credentials to the manager - in particular, if you have an audit trail that involves users, how can you be certain that when such a user is flagged by the system it is indeed the user and not their manager?

The whole point of login credentials is to ensure a logged in user is who they say they are (authentication), in order to give them access to whatever they need (authorization) and in some cases to allow for an audit trail.

Giving their credentials to someone else completely subverts this.

  • 9
    I guess I was doing it wrong.
    – TheTechGuy
    Jul 26, 2012 at 19:51
  • 5
    Well, that's only a real problem if the credentials are permanent; after all, the admin ('you') know them too! If the credentials require a change on first login, this is less of a problem. Jul 26, 2012 at 21:45
  • 17
    At our workplace, not even the IT know the passwords. Every new user is prompted at login to change their password after given a default one. Then every 90 days, we get asked to change it again. If we forget our password, we ask IT and they assign a generic password where we are again asked to change it when we log in. We use Windows.
    – user2059
    Jul 26, 2012 at 22:50
  • 2
    Another point to make is that if those credentials are provided by the user and you forward them to the manager, how do you know you're not inadvertently sending the user's banking password to the manager as well!
    – jmort253
    Jul 26, 2012 at 23:09
  • 13
    @Thecrocodilehunter - No time like now to change these traditions... As others have commented, in many environments, an initial password is setup which the system requires the user to change as soon as they log-in the first time. There is no password recovery service either - if the user forgot their new password, the admin will set a new one with the same condition - it needs to be changed as soon as the user logs in. This keeps the password secure with the user. The status quo you have is not a good one, change it for a better system.
    – Oded
    Jul 27, 2012 at 13:11

Sure, go ahead - as long as the user is required to change the password upon first login. They are, right? I mean, the goal here is to get the employee their credentials, and prove you've done so / get them to someone with a vested interest in assisting that new employee, while maintaining security.

This way you get all that, plus the user has to change their password "on first login" or whatever it's called now, so nothing is compromised.

I've seen systems that handle password changes this way too - forget your password, they email a new (temporary) one to your direct manager.

  • 2
    And as long as "I got my credentials but they are not working" are properly followed up on, instead of just regenerated.
    – Konerak
    May 4, 2016 at 11:13
  • 2
    -1 I would say that a manager should never see any of their employees' passwords, even if those passwords will be changed as soon as the employee logs in for the first time. What if, for example, an evil manager logs in as their employee and changes the password to something the employee doesn't know, then blames the employee for not getting work done while locked out of their computer? If the manager never sees the employee's credentials, such a scenario is impossible.
    – Kevin
    Aug 23, 2016 at 21:58
  • @Kevin I was working under the assumption - as stated in the answer - that the manager has a vested interest in assisting their own employee. If they don't then there are bigger problems than changing ones password.
    – Mark Allen
    Aug 24, 2016 at 23:31
  • @MarkAllen: If the manager is/was planning on sabotaging the employee/company, they had a large problem...which just got worse!
    – jmoreno
    Mar 28, 2018 at 0:04

You can send two emails for this. This is what is followed in our company and the managers never have a problem with it.

To: Employee

Cc: Manager1, Manager2

Dear Employee,

You have been registered in the system. Your username is firstname.lastname.

To adhere to the company's security policies, the password will be sent in the next e-mail marked only to you.

Regards, IT Team

To: Employee

Dear Employee,

The password to the username firstname.lastname is mynewpassword. We request you to change it immediately.

Regards, IT Team

  • 7
    It would seem that including the username and password in the second email negates the point of sending username and password separately! Jan 11, 2013 at 19:58
  • @JeromyFrench: How so? The point is that the second e-mail is sent only to the employee, not to the manager(s). (Sending plain-text passwords by e-mail is another issue, which is discussed by the other answers.) Jan 12, 2013 at 1:39
  • 3
    Jeromy is right. Seding both the username and the password in the second email means a) anyone intercepting that email can login to the account b) the first email is pointless. The second email should read "the password of your recently created account is 'mynewpassword'" Jan 14, 2013 at 14:56
  • 9
    How is the employee going to receive the password if he can not log in to the system to get his email? Jan 14, 2013 at 15:00
  • 2
    @DJClayworth The first email is not pointless. Although the employee receives the actual login name twice, it means that everyone knows that the login has been set up, everyone knows that everyone else knows that, and everyone knows that noone has the password except the employee. May 4, 2016 at 9:53

While it's appropriate to send a password via email, that password must be temporary; upon first login, the system must force a password change. Most enterprise-grade products support this option.

The problem is that credentials should not be stored anywhere in the open -- email least of all, since that's the first place attackers will look. Sending the password in a separate email doesn't really help, since a hacker who gets into your email will be able to see both messages, so you're no safer that way. Also, you may be required by a manager or anyone else for that matter to copy them on emails like this, significantly increasing your attack surface and the likelihood of an attacker getting the password.

The best solution is to simply force the user to change his password. Do not request that that the user change his password, since he never will. There are thousands of accounts out there with the password 12345 which was assigned as a temporary password and which the user was requested to change... and which he never did change.

  • +1 for mentioning the industry-condoned practice of communicating the login credentials.
    – Jas
    May 4, 2016 at 8:04

NO! it is not - this is security and sysadmin 101.

Also you do not ever send the user name and password in the clear, in the same document. Best practice is to create a temp password and communicate this to the employee via some other method and have the user change the password on login.


No, the password should not even be in the email in the first place. At my place of work, one tells the login ID to a user and requests the user to call IT to obtain a temporary password.

There are some other security considerations to think about.

  1. If your company has the robust technology to support it, passwords should be hashed using a strong algorithm such as bcrypt. Insecure protocols such as MD5 and SHA 1 should never be used.

  2. The email itself should be sent encrypted.

    Avoid using SSL and early version TLS as the encryption method as these are longer considered secure. AES can be used to encrypt symmetrically or a algorithm like RSA can be used to encrypt asymmetrically (2 keys). When encrypting, choose a long key length to maximize security as the security of the key is directly correlated with its character length.

  3. Secure emails with sensitive information should be digitally signed so that the recipient can verify the authenticity of the sender and to ensure non - repudiation by the sender.

A one way hash function such as HMAC-SHA 256 is applied to transform email into a cryptographic message digest. Do not sign using the SHA 1 algorithm as such algorithm has been cryptographically broken and is no longer secure as a result. Using PKI, a private key only you know is used to encrypt. Once the receiver uses your public key to decrypt, the resulting message hash should be the same. The public key is protected from tampering by a certificate that binds the identity of the owner with his / her public key. The certificate is obtained via a CA upon validating the credentials you supplied in your certificate request.

Otherwise, message integrity is lost and the received message cannot be trusted to be the message you sent.

The private key is known only to the sender and is associated with a unique public key known to the receiver of the email. By the fact that the receiver is able to use the public key associated with the sender of the email to decrypt the email message, means that the sender cannot deny having sent the message>>

Point 2 ensures that the Confidentiality of the email is not compromised. Confidentiality means no unauthorized disclosure occurred such as through MITM.

Point 3 ensures integrity and non - repudiation or that the contents of the email has not been altered by an unauthorized party, and that sender of the email cannot deny having sent the email, due to the presence of his or her public key used to decrypt the message by the receiver of the email.

Finally, you can mask the data when displayed for extra security.

  • This should be the accepted answer. See also this security.SE question and answer.
    – shoover
    May 5, 2016 at 15:26

If you're asking this, then you're in IT. ask your boss what company policy is. That's the safest path. Otherwise, I'd be inclined to say no, do not give managers the credentials.

However, ALWAYS let the manager know that a logon has been created for their underling. If they then request the credentials, ask them to submit that via your boss, so that it goes through proper channels.

  • 3
    If they're requesting the credentials, something is majorly wrong.
    – jmort253
    Jul 26, 2012 at 23:10
  • @jmort253 not neccessarily. generally, it's not good. but in some cases it's fine. case-by-case basis. after all, if the employee is sick, and was supposed to give a presentation, the boss might request access to employee's machine to pull up relavent files in order to give presentation themself
    – acolyte
    Jul 27, 2012 at 5:07
  • 2
    Then that's a risk that should be factored in. Bob shouldn't be the only person to have access to the files. The manager should be able to use his/her own login to access the system. As Oded says, the whole point of authentication is to verify that the person accessing a resource is who he/she says he is. For instance, that's why Google Docs has a sharing feature, so I don't have to give you access to all my stuff. In this case, the something that's majorly wrong is the lack of planning on the part of the employee, manager, and IT department.
    – jmort253
    Jul 27, 2012 at 7:24

I deal with this regularly.

This is my best solution so far:

  1. I have created a small script that creates the user account, sets the password (I pull from dinopass.com, but whatever you want), and assigns the user to their job role (active directory group). The password is set to require reset at the first login.
  2. The script then generates a text file with the user's login and password. It also includes simple instructions for logging on, and the support desk phone / extension.
  3. I PRINT the text file (ordinarily I hate printing, but in this case, yes), put the printout in a sealed envelope with the new employee's name on it, and give that to the manager.

Obviously this may not work if your organization is so large that you have multiple campuses, but this method:

  • Secures the password from "nosy" coworkers.
  • Forces the password to be reset on first logon.
  • Clearly communicates to the manager that the task is done.
  • Helps establish that the employee's first line of inquiry is to their manager, not to the help desk.

Obviously this works well in a single-building environment, but it does work very well for me. It also lets my front-line techs handle things easily, as I just give them the script (C# Console App that asks for user's first/last name, and pick employee role).

Hope it helps you.


If you are located near the new employees you can have them pickup a hard copy of the login information. You will just need to let the manager know that it is ready.

If there is a great distance between you and the employees, you will have to email the manger the credentials. This is to let them give the credentials to the new employee.

I worked for a place that tried to tell you to pickup the passwords by leaving a voice mail. They also sent you an email to tell you your voice mail was now enabled. Needless to say that method didn't work very well for new employees.

I also sent credentials to a manger once because the employee wouldn't try to login. They told their manager they never got them. After 4 or 5 cycles of creating a new temporary password and sending it out, they miraculously arrived after I also sent them to the manager.


A solution I've used, but didn't see suggested: Send the new user an email letting them know their account has been set up. If cc'ing their manager seems appropriate or necessary, then do so. However, you send them your telephone number and have them call (or visit) you to get their credentials. Or, you might send them their login id in this email; however, do not send the password via email.


Imagine some criminal damage is done, with incontrovertible evidence that it was done by someone having that person's username and password. Now you have a problem. There are two people, and you are quite sure that one is a criminal and one is quite innocent. Your company has a big problem. In Europe you have a huge problem because you know someone caused criminal damage and you can't fire them. In the USA, you still have a huge problem because there are two persons that you could fire, but one of them is totally innocent and you would lose what is likely a good employee. In addition, the employee and the manager know this, so it's likely the damage wouldn't have been done if only one person knew the password.

Nobody but that user must know the password. IT may have means to reset the password, and may be able to get into the computer after resetting the password, but they also must not know the current password and must not be able to change the password, cause damage from that user's account, and change the password back.

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