“It’s not going to work!” whispered Rozena, as she shrank back against a wall. Zazi peered down the corridor. It was dark, except for a light at the far end, where a security guard stood, looking away from them.
To Rozena’s surprise, the SCRAM Kids had made short work of getting inside the school. They hadn’t even had to climb over a fence or a wall – Zazi had not exaggerated Trevor’s skills. He knew exactly how to open every lock, and get past even the school’s alarm system.
The worst had been when they’d nearly run into a security guard on patrol with his dog. The dog had known there was something wrong. It had barked once, sniffed the air, while Rozena and the others hid behind a row of garbage bins. But the guard had pulled on its leash impatiently and led it away.
Now they were inside the school, getting near the headmaster’s office. Rozena touched Zazi’s arm again. “I know about these things!” she whispered. “I got interested in how the security system works and I found out all about it. It’s all computerised.”
Zazi ignored her. As the guard walked away she tiptoed across the hall and pushed open the door to the headmaster’s office. She beckoned to the others to follow. Once inside, they pushed the door closed.
“So, the bosses said the security camera recordings are kept on a special computer, here in this office somewhere,” said Zazi.
“That’s right,” said Rozena. “It’s a kind of computer called a server. But Zazi, they don’t keep the recordings for very long, only for a certain amount of time. Then the new recordings wipe over the old ones. Otherwise all those hours of recording would take up far too much memory space on the computer. The chances that there are any useful recordings, anything that shows Devon doing something illegal, are very small. It would have to have happened in the last twenty-four hours. What are the chances of that?”
Trevor snorted. “You’re just chicken. Or maybe you don’t know as much as you pretend, after all.”
Rozena felt her face growing hot. “It’s not that–”
“I’ve done my job, getting us in here.” Trevor shrugged as he turned away. “If you don’t have the skills, just say so.”
Colin and Zazi looked embarrassed, but they didn’t come to Rozena’s defence.
“Okay!” Rozena reached down under the headmaster’s desk, where she knew the server was kept. “I can do it. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Rozena sat in the headmaster’s chair and switched on his computer screen, after checking that the curtains were drawn. She didn’t want the light from the screen to draw a guard’s attention. With a deep breath to calm herself, she quickly made the connection to the server.
Colin stood at the door, listening for the approach of a guard, and Zazi stood near the window.
To Rozena’s discomfort, Trevor came to stand just behind her, looking at everything she was doing.
“What’s that?” he said, as a small text-box appeared on the screen.
“That’s the login,” said Rozena. “This is to stop anyone from accessing the server data. I have to enter a password to get in.”
“Oh?” Trevor seemed interested despite himself. “And what’s the password then?”
Rozena shook her head. “I don’t know. I can try and guess. But I only have three chances. If I get it wrong three times, then the whole thing will shut down.” She looked up at Trevor. “It’s also possible that I’ll be triggering a silent alarm just by trying. I mean, why would anyone be using the computer this late? Just touching the keyboard might bring the guards down on us.”
Trevor shrugged. “Got any other ideas?”
Rozena stared at the screen. It was too late for second thoughts.
“Okay,” she said. “I’ll try a password that a lot of people in this school use. It’s the default password – that means, it’s the password that’s used unless somebody changes it. There’s a chance that Mr Peterson hasn’t chosen his own password, and is still using the default.”
She typed ‘password01’, and pressed Enter. They all jumped as the computer beeped and the screen flashed, ‘Incorrect password’.
“Well, that didn’t work,” snorted Trevor.
Rozena forced herself to ignore the sarcastic tone of his voice. “Zazi, do you know when Mr Peterson was born?”
Zazi looked over at her, clearly surprised. “What? Why do you need to know that?”
“People often use things like that for their passwords. Dates or phone numbers that are easy to remember.”
“Oh!” said Zazi.
“I’m on it,” said Colin. He had his smartphone out, and was busy tapping at the screen.
Rozena sat perfectly still, straining to hear the guards. Surely, they were going to be caught?
“Got it!” said Colin. “Mr Peterson was born on the fourth of May, 1965.” He put his phone away. “You can find everything on Google!” he said with a smile.
“Okay. So that would be fourth day, fifth month, year sixty-five,” said Rozena. She typed 4/5/65 into the password field.
Again, there was a beep. Again the message: “Incorrect password.”
“Maybe we should just forget it,” said Trevor. “We’re wasting time.”
But Rozena was thinking now. What else could the password be? She had one more chance. The default password hadn’t worked. Neither had date of birth. Maybe…
Tell us: Are you careful about using a secure password on your phone or computer? Or don’t you bother?