Password Safety

It's probably something that isn't thought about much - a field on the electronic form to be completed as you sign up for an account, service, or make a purchase - but it's more important than most people know. Your password is an important step in staying safe online and students in third, fourth and fifth grades have been working on learning how to create strong passwords. It's a skill they will need as we continue to live in a growing digital world.
What are the risks? You don't want your personal information public, and that threat remains constant, especially if you are using free and unsecured wireless connections at fast food restaurants or coffee shops. It's amazing how easy it is for others to see what you may be typing into your phone or computer when the wireless is not secure. Computer viruses are another risk which can cause damage to your device which can be costly to repair. Worst of all, people can damage your online identity which is difficult to repair. The way you are seen online is very important and experts have said that your online reputation may be as or more important than your real life reputation because that's how employers and friends close and far will know you. If negative postings or activity under your name appear online it's hard to correct.
So how does one make a secure password? There are a few simple rules. NEVER use the word "password" as your password. Believe it or not, many people use this as their password. Common Sense Media recommends these steps in creating safe passwords. Changing passwords every few months also is smart for particularly important data.
• Don’t use passwords that are easy to guess – such as your nickname or your pet’s name. People who know you well can guess these kinds of passwords.
• Don’t use any private identity information in your password. Identity thieves can use this information to pretend to be you.
• Don’t use a word in the dictionary as a password. Hackers use programs that will try every word in the dictionary to guess passwords.
• Do use combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. These are harder to crack than regular words because there are more combinations to try.
Although we have talked about this at school, talk about this with your students and teach them safe password habits. It's a skill they can use the rest of their lives.
photo credit: marc falardeau via photopin cc