Creating secure passwords – Information for teachers and staff

Everyone logging into any account on the school system should be using strong, unique passwords for each account.

Creating a strong password

It's much easier than you think to hack a password. Computers can hack short passwords, even ones with special characters, numbers and letters, in moments.

Your passwords should:

  • have a minimum of 10 characters – use a phrase or multiple words to make it easier to remember
  • be complex. This is either by using a combination of letters, numbers and special characters (or making your password longer, like 16 characters or more)
  • not contain personal information, like important dates or children's names
  • be unique. Make sure it's not a password you use on any other accounts.

The length of your password is more important than how complex it is. Iit's better to have a longer password or passphrase (over 16 characters) without special characters than a password under 16 characters with them.

Strong passwords guide – CERT NZ(external link) 

Using a password manager

Most people know they should be using long, complex, unique passwords. But we all have so many online accounts that we end up making our passwords easier or repeating them so we'll be able to remember them.

The best way to keep all your passwords long, strong, unique – and accessible – is to use a password manager. A password manager is a secure app that stores all your passwords for you, so you only need to remember one master password. They have several features, including creating strong passwords for you and then saving them.

There are several types of password managers. A purpose-built one is the safest and can be accessed from any device or browser.

Find out about the different types of password managers on CERT NZ's website:

Using a password manager in your business – CERT NZ(external link)

Creating a passphrase

A passphrase is a good way to make sure your password is long and strong. Most password managers will offer to create (and then remember) strong complex passphrases.

If you would prefer not to use a password manager, a good rule of thumb is to use four unrelated words in a random order, for example 2balls-Oscar-pineapple-ferry. You can then make up a sentence to help you remember it (2 balls hit Oscar like a pineapple thrown from a ferry), or memorise an acronym to remind you (2BOPF).

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