Computer Passwords


To determine the strength of several different computer passwords. At the end of this experiment, you and your classmates will have an understanding of what factors make weak computer passwords and which types of passwords are stronger.

Additional information

Computer passwords are common – often, you need one when logging onto a school computer or when logging into your personal email. Passwords keep unwanted visitors from accessing personal information. Computer passwords are essential for entities such as the government, which keep people’s personal information on file. These passwords need to be very strong to deter hackers from accessing this type of information.

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Required materials

  • Computer
  • Email addresses with password for each password that you intend to use
  • Journal or logbook
  • Several student volunteers with an equal mix of boys and girls
  • Calculator

Estimated Experiment Time

This experiment will take several hours.

Step-By-Step Procedure

  • 1. The first step is to determine how many passwords you will use and come up with passwords of varying strength. You could, for example, perform the experiment with two “easy” passwords, two “intermediate” passwords and two “difficult” passwords.
  • 2. Set up email accounts for each password. Record each email account and password into your journal for organization purposes. Your email accounts could look like this:
    Email Password Strength Password Easy johnsmith Intermediate j0hnSm1th13 Difficult c00kb00k_@xYXn
  • 3. Have each student attempt to log into each email account. If you are doing two sets of easy, intermediate and difficult passwords, let each student know which email account has which level of password difficulty for the first set and let them try by themselves for the second set.
  • 4. Record how many students guess your password for each password difficulty level.
  • 5. Calculate the percentage of correct guesses with each password difficulty level.

  • Note

    You may need quite a few student volunteers for this experiment to get statistics that you can work with.


    Easy passwords will be guessable by your classmates and include passwords such as your name or your best friend’s name. They can also include passwords such as “password” or “computer.” Intermediate passwords will include numbers but are still relatively guessable, such as your name and age. Difficult passwords will include uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers and special characters.


    The student volunteers will most likely easily guess the passwords that are considered “easy.” A few of them may guess the “intermediate” passwords and generally, none of them will guess the “difficult” passwords. How does your statistical data prove that difficult passwords are stronger and are better to use than easier ones? What types of people would be better off using a stronger password rather than one that is easily guessed?

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