Passwords get longer and more secure for teachers and new students

This year, for security purposes, all transfer students, seventh graders, and faculty members received new, sixteen character passwords. The passwords are used for students to login to their laptops, PowerSchool accounts, any other BSM account, and the printers.

Although the passwords may be long, they help secure the system. “When you think about BSM being a private school, you think about all the data we have. We have families financial and health information, students’ grades, college applications, and your teachers’ gradebooks. We need to make sure all of those things are secure and that you can trust us with your stuff,” help desk specialist Mr. Bill Cheney said.

There are certain applications that could easily hack into the system with the current eight character passwords. Cheney explained that by adding more characters it could take many years to make it into the system. By that time, the students will have already graduated. “There is an application called Brute Force Attack that spits out random passwords to try to hack into a system. If someone did that with the old eight character passwords that we used to have, it is pretty easy for a computer to hack into the system,” Cheney said.

Many of the new students are frustrated with the length of the passwords. “I feel like it’s unnecessary to have such a long passwords that you have to use for practically everything,” seventh grader Meg Carlson said.

Cheney and the whole tech team are aware of the inconvenient length. The recommendation for the switch came from an outside company. Every year they have something called a technology audit which is an examination and evaluation by an auditor of BSM’s technology infrastructure. It follows with feedback on how to improve the system. “The last few years going over these technology audits, one of the things that has been constantly recommended is strengthening our passwords. In that process, we have decided that all faculty and staff had to switch,” Cheney said.

Cheney and the team wanted to make sure the passwords were easy to memorize and enter into computers. “We did some research into what made the passwords easier to remember. They are longer, so it makes it a little more complicated. We had to jump back and forth trying to figure out what worked best,” Cheney said.

After some research, they finally came up with a specific number of characters to make the passwords bearable. “The complexity is the important part of it. It’s not just the fact that its sixteen characters. It’s the fact that it at least has one upper case character, a number and a symbol,” Cheney said.

Now that BSM is starting to add the longer passwords to the system, they have a plan to eventually convert everybody over the next two years, so the technology systems can be more secure and safe from hackers.“Students who are currently here that have the shorter passwords––we will be working with them over the next year or two to make sure that they change their passwords to match. Our goal is by the 2021-2022 school year that all students and faculty have the sixteen character password,” Cheney said.