Why Do Students Have to Change Their Password?

What’s the most common password?

Research shows it’s an easy one to guess: abc123. In second place is the equally predictable “password.” If you’ve read recent news stories on data security, you probably already know to avoid these two.

But did you know there are now tools that can guess thousands of possible passwords in seconds? The world of data security is always evolving. What might have been a strong password not too long ago can quickly become vulnerable as hackers gain new skills and tools.

In fact, a recent survey by an online security firm found that 79 percent of passwords are insecure.   That adds up to a lot of personal data at risk.

Student data can be particularly at risk – and many students are used to living their lives online and don’t understand the importance of keeping education data private.  Explain to students that once someone else has access to the details of their lives, whether it’s their address, grades or Social Security number, they lose control over what can happen to it. This lesson plan from Common Sense Media can help introduce younger students to the concepts of secure passwords: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/lesson/strong-passwords-3-5

Older students should be reminded that as they move through the school system and into the working world, the need to keep personal information private will grow.  Although educators don’t want students to panic or feel paranoid, students often need guidance in learning how to minimize risk online.

Passwords are the first line of defense to minimize risk to student data. That’s why the password system for Transitions will be strengthened.

What does this mean for account holders? Every student, parent and adult account holder will be required to reset their password upon their first sign-in after the password changes go into effect.

All new and reset passwords must:

  • Be between 8 and 12 characters long (right now, student, parent and adult account holders can have passwords between 5 and 12 characters long).
  • Contain both letters and numbers. They cannot have special characters (things like symbols or punctuation) or spaces.
  • Be different from their account name.

Feeling pressured to come up with a memorable but secure password? Here’s a trick: think of an unforgettable (to you) sentence and use the first letters of each word as the base for your password.  A sentence like “my favorite meal is pizza” could become “MYfmisP9” (that’s assuming you can eat nine pieces of pizza).

We agree: changing passwords can be a pain. But consider the alternative – somebody gaining access to students’ personal information. XAP takes our role in protecting student data seriously, so we’re letting you know about these upcoming changes in password security to help any students who may have questions.

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