July 01, 2013

Secure Passwords for the Forgetful

Passwords are easily forgotten, and this is proportional to the number of accounts you hold.  Kids forget things. Adults forget things.  Despite this, teachers find themselves in a difficult position of having to create an account to use a new application, and new accounts require a secure password.  We need secure passwords.  The most recent attack on Evernote was a good wake-up call as to why.

There is a convention commonly used that simplifies the process of creating and remembering a secure password:  Use three or four easy-to-remember words.  You can give students a prompt such as, "Favorite Animal, Favorite Color, and Favorite Food."  (Mine would be "ElephantGreenPotatoes", which is funny enough to remember.)  It's more secure than you need, easy to remember and easy to read to someone.  Spanish works, too:  "ElefanteVerdePapas".  It used to be said that super-secure passwords require numbers and some symbol characters, but in truth, these are easier to hack and harder to remember.

See this cartoon if you are still not convinced:

In the instance you have the equivalent to "writer's block" when creating new user names for your student accounts, a simple way to start is to use [FirstNameLastName] so that you are not always guessing who is interacting with you, especially when you're dealing with an online presence of  20 or more students.  This also decreases the likelihood that the username has been taken by someone else.  Example:  joleenwelborn would be my user name.  In the event that the name is taken, I add the year to the end of the name (joleenwelborn2013).  This is pretty easy to remember, too.

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