Stealing Someone Else’s Password = Epic Fail

November 30th 2011

Discovering other people’s passwords is often easy to do. Sometimes a person’s password is so weak that it can be guessed in a matter of minutes. Other times the person may have foolishly shared their password, or they may have walked away from their computer without logging out of their accounts giving others a chance to look at their password. Sometimes a password is even stored by the computer or phone making it easy for those with malicious intent to collect at a later date.

There is a big difference in being able to discover a password and having the right to use it. In fact, using someone else’s password can carry criminal penalties. In the news this past week there was an article covering the criminal prosecution of a young man who used a girl’s password to gain access to her Facebook account.

For the Press

Wish to include this story in your own news channel? Download the Press Release.

 

Lesson

This lesson will help students deepen their understanding of responsible and appropriate internet use, provide insight into current ethical and legal standards, and help them understand their obligations and restrictions when using technology services.

The discovery and abuse of someone’s password to damage their reputation, make a ‘joke’, deliberately cyberbully, or cause some other form of ‘drama’ is a common problem among youth today.

Based on a current news article, this lesson covers the criminal prosecution of a young man who used a girl’s password to gain access to her Facebook account, sexualize her profile, and post sexual comments on boy’s pages.

In this lesson students will look at the issue of password abuse, the potential criminal consequences, the ethical questions surrounding the use of any information without express permission or with the intent to do harm, and what students can do to change the dynamics and be socially responsible.

Grades - Appropriate for Grades 6-12

Time Required - 30-45 minutes


Key Concepts

This section outlines the key concepts covered in this lesson on respecting the passwords and information of others, as well as the vocabulary words every student should understand.

  • Passwords are private; you should never attempt to discover or use anyone’s password

  • Using someone else’s account or pretending to be someone else online is unethical and may carry criminal penalties

  • If you do discover someone’s password, inform them so they can change their password

  • The majority of students are respectful of others and understand that other’s online accounts are not theirs to tamper with

Materials & Resources

Equipment Needed None
Full News Article Identity Theft and “Receiving” a Password
Lesson Plan Using Someone’s Password Without Permission May Be a Crime
Lesson Presentation Companion Presentation

Vocabulary

1. Criminal penalties
– The punishment given by the law enforcement system for the commission of a crime
2. Penal code
- A set of laws enacted by a government body that carry penalties for violation
3. Personal identifying information
– any information that is uniquely associated with a single person
4. Identity theft
- is a crime in which a criminal obtains key pieces of someone else’s personal information
5. Libel
- A published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation
  Lesson

Learning Activities

Create a courtroom:

Have students study up on this case, or the case covered in the additional resources section, or use a case that has happened in your school or area, or create a fictional case. Assign students to be the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and jurors. Do Not use students as the victim or offender to avoid negative energy focusing on either student. Use inanimate objects to represent these characters – for example, put a face on a chair.

Set up a survey in your school or school district

Incorporate technology into this lesson by asking students to create a survey using a tool like Survey Monkey, or using one you have available in your district. Have students write questions, vet the questions as a group (possibly use these questions as a launch pad for a segment on how to write unbiased survey questions), and ask the student body to take the (anonymous) survey. Discover what students know about the laws, ethics, and measure the ethical standard in your school. You may choose to present these findings in an assembly, through an announcement (online or over the public announcement system), or create posters to share the information with fellow students. To add fun to this assignment you may want to let students guess what the responses will be and have a prize for the student who most closely predicts the ethical standard of the students within the school or school district.

Make a homework assignment:

Ask students to research the electronic impersonation and identity theft laws in your state; take the discussion home and have parents sign off that they discussed this lesson with their student; etc.

  Learning Activities

Professional Development

This lesson looks closely at Cyber-ethics, cyber-laws, and the consequences of unethical behavior. You can leverage this lesson to increase your own learning by gaining a deeper understanding of one or more of these areas.

  Professional Development

Parent Tips

The discovery and abuse of someone’s password to damage their reputation, make a ‘joke’, deliberately cyberbully, or cause some other form of ‘drama’ is a common problem among youth today.

In class we’ve discussed ethics based on a current news article about the criminal prosecution of a young man who used a girl’s password to gain access to her Facebook account, sexualize her profile, and post sexual comments on boy’s pages.

We’ve discussed the issue of password abuse, the potential criminal consequences of abusing someone’s password and posing as that person, the ethical questions surrounding the use of any information without express permission or with the intent to do harm, and what students can do to change the dynamics and be socially responsible.

Understanding ethical behavior and identifying consequences associated with our actions requires effort and repetition. To help your student internalize this lesson, please review this material and have an open conversation about extending respect to others. Reiterate the positive benefits of living an ethical life and remind your child of the values you expect them to adhere to when online.

  Parent Tips


Additional Resources

iKeepCurrent, a Tool From
Generation Safe
iKeepSafe.org
Blog
SUPPORT US