On March 2nd, WRDSB launched a new password policy in order to strengthen the security for all accounts managed by the WRDSB Information Technology (IT) department. This change in policy is one that has been on the horizon for a while now but has been forced to happen sooner than expected due to the rapid evolution of technology that is now available to people everywhere.

With computers evolving to faster speeds and hackers developing stronger algorithms to find passwords we use, the strength of a password is no longer dependent on how random it can be, but how long it is as well.

A member of the WRDSB IT department said in an interview, “This is a whole different way of thinking about passwords […] we’ve learned that it’s the length of the password that strengthens it, along with a few memory tricks […] this generation of teens is quite visual. It makes sense that remembering passwords through engaging memory will be easier for them.” This change enables our generation to create longer, yet simpler passwords to be used in place of ridiculously random strings of letters, numbers, and characters.

While you might first think that a password that is randomized could work very well for you or when using a new password, you just have to change a character or two, and you’ll be surprised to find out that this is very wrong.

A consultant with WRDSB who specializes in instructional technology for the board had this to say about password security: “The more you ask people to change their passwords, the more likely they are to keep the same basic password and change or add a number or letter. That means there’s a greater chance that a portion of their password could appear on those common lists.” Hackers are now sharing this data and can view millions of passwords that have been used to then try and guess your unique combination. From there, if you simply change one character or another they will find all your passwords quickly.

Even with the recent closure of schools due to COVID-19, the staff at WRDSB still feel strongly that this is a step in the right direction to continue to keep accounts secure. In addition, it also serves to improve students’ awareness of how to create a strong password for their own use. This is important as we are in a digital era and if you don’t know how to safeguard personal information, you could quickly find out how harsh reality truly can be.

The new requirements for staff and secondary students’ passwords are listed below. You can change your password at https://mypassword.wrdsb.ca/.