Top 5 Teacher Password Do’s and Don’ts

Did you know that the average teacher has over 100 passwords? Password security has long been an issue for teachers and schools and the issue is only getting more important as technologies – and  hackers – get more sophisticated. 

Fraud related to password hacks and identity theft are significant problems. ThinkFives consulted with a number of experts in the security field and distilled their advice for teachers into these 5 Do’s and Don’ts.  Each of us is unique in our own way.  Don’t let someone else become you!

Do: Use Complex Passwords

Your children’s names are things that you hopefully will never forget. But they make horrible passwords. A person with even the slightest amount of information about you can easily guess your most likely passwords. Teachers should keep your password long and don’t use any commonly hacked passwords.

What are the most breached passwords? According to NordPass, who researched over 275,699,516 passwords, these are the top ten passwords people use.

  • 123456
  • 123456789
  • picture1
  • password
  • 12345678
  • 111111
  • 123123
  • 12345
  • 1234567890
  • senha

If your password is on the list – or any variation or permutation of these – it’s probably time to rethink your password strategy.

Don’t:  Save Your Passwords To Your Browser

Many browsers now offer to save your passwords locally so that when you visit that website again you can simply log in. But if you’re a  teacher, don’t.

The first reason is that if you leave your computer unattended and even feel you have no confidential documents to worry about, someone (or a student) could log into your browser and access your apps or social media sites because your browser simply fills in your passwords. It’s also a reason you should always put your computer in sleep mode or log out when you step away from your desk..

Another vulnerability is that with passwords stored locally, a virus or malware can steal all passwords if somehow your computer gets infected. Hackers can scan your hard drive looking for exactly these password lists. And if these passwords are for your bank or other private information, hackers can use them before you even know.

And finally, if you ever sell your computer — unless you’re careful to clearly wipe out all data — it would be possible for someone with a software tool to scan your hard drive and perhaps find your passwords and make noise.

Do: Mix It Up

Just because you are not using family names or counting from 1 to 9 doesn’t mean you have a great password. Teachers need to have passwords that are long and a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. It’s advisable to mix it up, switching back and forth from letters to numbers to symbols.

Why?  Because you are an easy target for a brute-force attack — attacks carried out by hackers who program computers to try as many different combinations as possible. Distributed.net’s Projekt RC5-72 calculated the time it takes one of these hackers to guess a password under various conditions. These stats are mind boggling.

PasswordTime to Hack
5 characters (3 lowercase, 2 numbers)0.03 seconds
8 characters (4 lowercase, 2 special, 2 numbers) 2.6 days
12 characters (3 uppercase, 4 lowercase, 3 special, 2 numbers)7.5 million years

Teacher life expectancy is increasing but not at these rates. Give the hackers a real challenge: use 12 characters or more.

Don’t: Keep Your Password Handy

DWe’ve all seen examples of  teachers who got new computers and then pulled out their old favorite yellow sticky notes, wrote down their password, and stuck it on their monitor. Handy? Yes. Smart? No.

Leaving your passwords out near a computer in the top drawer, or pretty much anywhere where other people or students can find them, is a definite don’t. If you must write down passwords, keep them in a secured place behind a lock and a key. Better yet, don’t write down your passwords. You might keep them electronically on another device but even then there should be security with that document.

But ultimately, the answer is our #1 recommendation for passwords: get a password manager.

Do: Use A Password Manager

Did you know that the average teacher has over 100 passwords?  How in the world could anyone possibly remember all those? On top of that, a number of programs force you to change your password every 30 or 60 days.

The solution: a password manager. A password manager is an app that remembers all your passwords. You create a master password that will allow you to access the app and save anything you want. So there’s only one password you’ll ever need to remember again.

Sounds simple? Well, it is. Programs like One Password or LastPass are almost a requirement nowadays.  Another great advantage is that you can use the app across any platform: iPad, Windows and Android.

If you are a teacher and don’t have one, it may be time to put it on your holiday list.

Do you have a tip for teachers securing passwords?  Please share.


  1. This is so important! I’ve definitely seen people who use the sticky note method (not me!). Keep your information safe!

  2. Yes, I also realize that putting “password” as a password is also not the most brilliant idea, speaking from personal experience.

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