Putting the Word in Password

Putting the Word in Password

On March 4, Torrance Unified School District changed the passwords to all ETUSD student email accounts.

Previously, student email passwords included their 7-digit student ID with two random capital letters. 

We’ve spent years with the simple two-letter combination. Now, we have to memorize a specific word and a number. For me, it was a little annoying to retype the new password after typing my old one in under a second. 

I didn’t see how a password change could secure our accounts if all it takes is a password to access them.

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If Torrance Unified wanted to secure our emails, why didn’t they just have us link some form of two-factor authentication with a personal email or a verification code? Why not rely on authentication apps like Duo Mobile? 

For context, two-factor authentication refers to an additional layer of security on top of 

passwords when accessing websites and accounts. Also, some authentication apps generate temporary codes you can use to verify or deny every time someone logs into your accounts.

Out of curiosity, I contacted the Communications Department of Torrance Unified with a list of questions regarding the security of the passwords. 

According to the EdTech team, two-factor authentication is impossible as not every student has a mobile device to use a verification app.  TUSD desires a balance between security and usability, believing that, all things addressed, 2FA would “take away from valuable instructional time.”

2FA is trickier to implement than I expected. But there’s nothing to worry about. TUSD staff and faculty have 2FA, and the district organizes programs and procedures for its staff, increasing their response to cybersecurity threats. 

It seems to me then that students could be the weak link for our school district. If that is the case, is it only a matter of time until TUSD implements similar security measures for its students?

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