Monday, December 8, 2014

Hacking the System

9th grade honors geography. They had a project due the next day. But the lesson plan had them working on something else.

My general feeling is if the class is reasonably well-behaved, I don't much mind what they're working on. (Of course, if their assignment is due at the end of the period, I push for that. This wasn't the case this day.) And if they have something like a project due, sure, the project takes priority.

Rose asked if she could test her USB drive in the teacher's laptop. Her presentation was done, but apparently she's had technical difficulties the last three times she's had to present. And she wanted to make sure her PowerPoint would work this time.

Again, something I don't see an issue with. But she had to power up the teacher's laptop and log in.

Every student has an individual passcode to log in to the school computer system. Every teacher does, too.

The student passcodes limit them as to what they can access at school. Also, I was positioned in a spot where I could watch Rose and the computer. So, after warning her that she would have to log in, she booted up the computer.

And tried her password. Which she couldn't remember. But, she logged in with what she thought it was, and it didn't work.

A friend tried to help. Logging in with the password she knew worked. But it didn't.

So, the laptop was either not connected to the school network, or only the teacher could use his password to log in to it.

Rose wondered if she could guess the teacher's password.

It became a game. Several students joined in with their guesses. The teacher liked to wear Hawaiian shirts. Could that be it?

Rose tried several things she thought might be it. At one point, the computer took a while to deny her, so she thought she had it. But ultimately, Rose couldn't guess the password and gave up.

Where was I during all this? Watching. I didn't think Rose would actually guess the password, but if by some dumb luck she did, I wanted to let the teacher know he was going to need to change it.

I hope Rose's presentation worked the next day.


  1. I guess they're not going to be hackers. Probably a good thing.

  2. I think if I was a teacher I would change my password daily :)


  3. Wow...I'm impressed that a student could crack a teacher's password! We have a future hacker...or security genius!

    1. She didn't. They never got in to the system.

  4. They seemed determined to get into the computer but glad they didn't. I would be changing the password constantly as well if I was the teacher and I hope the girl could present her work ok

  5. It's a wonder they didn't get locked out after the first three goes. Yes if I was that teacher I'd be changing my password frequently!

    1. I think it was the third try where it took a while for the system to say the password was wrong. But yeah, there should be a point where you have to stop guessing.

  6. Teachers' networks should not be connected to the students'...

    1. In an ideal world. But this is a public school with limited resources...


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