Teacher’s Lesson Guide for Grades 7-12 StopCyberbullying
Purpose: Teaching password security. (Designed for a 40 minute class period.)
Student Learning Objectives:
Following this lesson the students will be able to –
> Appreciate the importance of secure passwords
> Recognize risky passwords
> Select better passwords that are easy to remember but hard to guess.
> Understand the three levels of password security.
> Understand the damage that can be done if someone knows their password.
Print and read the “20 Questions for Parents and Teachers” article regarding the twenty most popular questions people use when creating a password. You may also find “Cyberbullying 101” helpful.
Teaching Tip: Seventy percent of middle and high school students polled told WiredSafety.org that they share their passwords with their friends and others have passwords that can be easily guessed by using the “20 Questions” list. They also often include “password,” “[the name of the site],” “[their name],” or “123456” to round out the pack. So, even if they haven’t been given the password as a token of friendship (like a friendship ring), friends can easily guess each other’s passwords. (Think about your own password creation methods. Most of us adults fall into the same risk categories as our students!)
To top it off, in many cases students who want to abuse their friend’s passwords don’t even have to guess or remember it. Since friends using each others’ computers or devices often store their password for faster revisits, they merely need to call up the log-in page and there it is!
Saved passwords are a particular problem in schools and community access centers (libraries, for example). People of all ages tend to forget and instead save their passwords on the computer to make it easy for them when they return, but it also makes it easier for the next person to abuse them.
Step one: Ask your students to list the sort of words they use as passwords. They may list things such as their favorite band, movie, or food. Make a list of the twenty most common questions they ask themselves or the different methods they use when coming up with a new password; you may write the list on the board if you wish.
Step two: Read the “20 Questions” list to your students. While our list may differ slightly from yours, you will probably see many overlapping themes.
Emphasize the importance of choosing a password that is not based on the 20 questions, because anyone who knows you may be able to figure out your password. For example, if you simply chose the name of your favorite band as your password, anyone who knew you could easily guess it.
Step three: Now you can teach your students about the three levels of password security and how to choose better passwords.
Level 1: The first level of password security can be used for accounts that do not contain any of your personal information or ones that simply allow access to the site. These are accounts where no progress or work would be lost if they were hacked, such as an account for a news website. The passwords for this type of an account may be somewhat simple, such as a combination of two of your favorite things such as your favorite movie and your favorite snack: matrixpopcorn.
Level 2: The second level of password security should be used for accounts that you visit somewhat frequently and have a low level of personal information, such as a gaming account. For these types of accounts, a higher level of security is required. Consider adding the abbreviation for the website or numbers to your password. For example, if the website was called Silverspoon Games, you could add “SG” to your password: matrixpopcornSG.
Level 3: The third level of password security is for your most important accounts, such as any social networking account or email account. For these types of accounts, maximum security is required. The easiest way to make a strong password for this type of account is to use a sentence, complete with capitalization, punctuation (if the website allows), and a number. For example, “IliketodrinkH2O.”
Have your students brainstorm examples for each level of security.
Step 4: Emphasize to your students that a strong password will do you no good if always click “save my login and password.” While this may be fine on your personal computer than no one else uses, in many cases it is a security risk. Even if you share the computer with your siblings, they may be tempted to snoop in your personal accounts or even send out messages from your email account, causing trouble by pretending to be you.