Monday, April 23, 2012

Password Please

Here's one for ya. For background, students at my school get four different computer accounts that initially, are all set to the same password but if they change their passwords within either of them, it only affects that specifc account, not the others. To assist with this potential for confussion, last year we rolled out a password reset tool that will change all four passwords to a single, user selected password at once.

The initial setup of the reset tool requires the student to select three questions and provide answers to them. Upon using the tool, the student is presented with these three questions and upon successfully replying to all, they can change their passwords.

Today, a student came to me saying he couldn't get into one of his accounts so I reminded him of the reset tool. He disappeared for a few minutes then returned mentioning that he forgot the answers to the questions.

Is this okay?
Should he get a free pass or does he need to be reminded that the purpose of the tool is for security and the idea is to select questions and answers that are easy to remember?

I know first hand how many passwords we are overwhelmed with in the modern world and I can't say that I've never forgotten a password.

What are your thoughts?


radioactive girl said...

I hate those "easy" questions because I always can think of several different answers that could be something I would have chosen. I am awful at remembering passwords and my kids seem to have taken after me with this. Now we make sure and tell each other our passwords for important things, which really seems to defeat the purpose of having a password.

Chris said...

Tori - I always value your perspective. Do you notice how now, certain sites are even more strict about their requirements for a password? They need to have at least one upper case character, one lower case character, and number, and a special symbol - I think this is taking things too far.

On your point, and my own admission of password negligence, I try to be flexible with the students but also reinforce the value of the tools provided to them.

You're right about those questions - I sometimes get confused. In the case of our tool, they select from a pretty good number of questions and in fact, one of the three is a question they compose themselves.

I guess a combination of education and patience :)