Student Passwords: A Reckoning Long Overdue

Date Published
Dec 10, 2020 11:11:01 AM
Reading Time
Reading Time: 1 min

Student passwords have become an unruly mess at best, and a gigantic security hole at worst. The students level of sophistication with passwords evolves over time. The kind of password a 1st grader can handle is very different than that of a freshman.

In the craziness of the “tween” years, bullying, work avoidance, and just general maliciousness reaches an all-time high. The password behavior you have to manage for with a 6th grader is totally different than with a 3rd grader.

The promise of single sign on, sounding like the perfect solution from a 40,000-foot view, is incredibly difficult to implement on the ground. Each SIS (student information system) where attendance, demographics, grades, transcripts, etc. reside have limitations on what data can be pushed and pulled through the database.

Each LMS (learning management system) like google classroom, canvas, moodle, etc. have different constraints. Add in supplemental systems like Read180, IXL, Realize Math, Spell City, Freckle, etc. with each having their own set of parameters around student credentials.

As schools have to pivot to remote learning due to Covid-19 restrictions, a disaster is in the making.

How can you keep a student password safe and secure, but functional for a 1st grader & 6th grader?  If parents are lucky enough to have the resources to monitor their students at home, are the password(s) given to the parent or just the student?

Who can request a password change? Will that password change replicate through all the different platforms? What about students who are in small learning pods, child care centers, students with IEPs, or older siblings supervising younger siblings; who helps the student with the password in those scenarios?

We won’t even bring up 2 factor authentication. Credentialing is the heart of any security system; getting adults to practice good password hygiene and management is an uphill battle.

Pushing that down to our youngest students is requiring a whole new thought process and problem solving landscape for security professionals like ourselves. While I don’t have a solution for this problem, it is a problem worth discussing as all of our students are learning online whether at school or home.

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