Secure Passwords & Account Security

Keeping your data safe

Winter 2022 Digital Citizenship Newsletter

Secondary (Middle & High School) Edition

There have been quite a few blocked accounts and data breaches in our student accounts. Please take the time to use this newsletter to educate our students on the importance of creating secure passwords and protecting their data by avoiding free VPNs.

Why is a secure password important?

If your password is too easy to guess, hackers can log into your accounts and steal your important information (think about bank accounts and other personal accounts) or use your email account to spread spam or dangerous viruses.

It is also important not to reuse passwords when you reset them. If your account was previously compromised, using the same passwords over and over again leave your account vulnerable to future attacks.

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How do I create a secure password?

You want to create passwords that are strong but also memorable.

Here's an example of a process to create a strong, memorable password.

  • Start with your favorite movie, song, food, sports team
  • Add a prefix for the type of account (something to tell whether it's a school, work, personal account)
  • Change at least one letter to either a number or a symbol (ex. all letter A is changed to @) or add a symbol to the beginning or end (or both)
  • Add a memorable number to either the beginning or the end.

Example of how this may look ...

  • My favorite sports team is the Tennessee Titans ... so I will start with Titans
  • This is my school account, so I will add my school intials WMS ... WMSTitans
  • I will change the letter I to the number 1 ... WMST1tans
  • I will add a symbol to the beginning and end ... @WMST1tans@
  • Finally, I will add the month and date of my birthday (Aug. 16) to the end but before the last symbol ...

Final password - @WMST1tans0816@

For my personal account, I might use the same process, but use "home" instead of "WMS" and change the symbols I use, so my personal accounts password might look like *HomeT1tans0816* ... my bank account may be $BankT1tans0816$

Note: if you must reset your RCS password, you cannot reuse your last 3 passwords & you must include at least 6 characters. Do NOT use your state ID if you must reset your password.

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What is a VPN and why do people use them? Why would they be dangerous?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. People use a VPN when they wish to bypass filters that have been put in place for their protection or the protection of network security. Some people use VPNs so that their online activity cannot be traced back to their computer or to prevent hacking when on a public network.

Many people download and use free VPNs from the app store. The problem with this is that nothing is really "free." If you read the fine print in the often LOOOOONNNNGGG user agreement, you will find that free VPNs may collect your data (every keystroke you make) and save it, often selling your data to other companies. So, basically, you are selling your personal data to "pay" for the VPN.

This means that they have access to every website you have visited, not to mention every username and password you enter while using the VPN!! (Have you checked your bank account while using a VPN? If so, they have your account information)

Some free VPNs have also been found to install malware or spyware on your device.


10 Hidden Dangers of Free VPNs that are Totally Avoidable

Facebook will shut down its spyware VPN app Onavo | TechCrunch

The Dangers of Free VPNs | AT&T Cybersecurity (

If you use a VPN while logging into your RCS Microsoft account, it will block your login!

RCS's Microsoft network protects against hackers by blocking any login that seems to come from a different country. Because a VPN will make it look like you are logging in from some other place, Microsoft will place a block on your account and you will no longer be able to sign into your RCS account (email, OneDrive, Clever, etc.) until you follow the steps below.

Student Microsoft Blocked Account Help Document


Students should reset their password using Self-Service Password Reset (SSPR). You MUST use a STRONG password, or it will not work. SSPR must have been setup prior to the blocked message.

Password Requirements

  • You cannot use the last 3 previous passwords.
  • Do NOT use your state ID.
  • It must be at least 6 characters.

Use the link below to reset your password.

*This process may take up to an hour so the account will not be unblocked immediately.


If you have not setup SSPR, students must contact the designated technical support person at their school. The designated support person at the school should email Tech Help.


If you have any questions, reach out to your school technician or to the technology team at Central Office.
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