In Cyber Security

It seems that no matter the repeated advice regarding security breaches and password importance – people just don’t get it! Regardless of news stories depicting data hacking catastrophes, millions of people still choose “12345” as their password. The great password debate of 2019 – so bad it’s almost funny.

Data breach rise

2019 witnessed a massive swathe of data breaches affecting billions of internet users. With data violations growing more and more common, internet users need to take earnest heed and step up their password game.

Released recently was a list of the 200 most popular passwords leaked in data breaches last year. Anonymous independent researchers compiled this file, containing a whopping 500 million passwords in total – you could say the database is rather impressive.

However, if you’re thinking “ooh, that’s a lot of leaked passwords”, think again — horrifyingly, it’s just the tip of a massive iceberg. Collections #1-5 alone contained almost 3 billion accounts. Ouch.

Simple passwords continue to top the ‘most popular’ list

The most common passwords mainly contain prominent and SO EASY to guess number combinations such as, you guessed it, 12345, 111111, and (upping the ante here) 123321. Some people opt for their names, and other genius code breakers go with strings of letters forming a vertical line or horizontal line on a QWERTY keyboard (asdfghjkl, qazwsx, 1qaz2wsx, etc.).

*If this is you, please stop what you’re doing and change your passwords, immediately.

Not surprisingly, having read the above, the most obvious one of all — “password” — remains hugely popular; 830,846 people still use it today. Year after year, the same passwords proudly dominate the “worst passwords” list. But why oh why do people keep on using use them?

But why?

The main reason people opt for simple passwords is convenience. A simple password is easy to remember, and with a million things to do, and a myriad of online accounts, duplicating your simple password seems like a great idea. After all, how else will you remember them all? – it’s hard enough remembering simple food shopping lists or dentist appointment dates.

The problem arises when someone has duplicated their passwords and then one of them ends up in a breach. This error of convenience means ALL accounts are now rendered incredibly vulnerable, and automatically compromised too. A weak password is a catastrophe waiting to happen. A weak password copied across all online accounts is a security no no. Please don’t do it!

The solution

The good news is, these problems are so easy to avoid. Maintaining good password hygiene goes a long way. Be sure to check all your accounts for suspicious activities regularly. If you see something strange, change your password immediately.

Update all your passwords and use individual, complex ones to safeguard your accounts. Think Hieroglyphs, or The Enigma Machine, or The Vigenère square – the undecipherable cypher!! Not your cat’s name, 123. Use a password generator to make sure they are improbable to guess.

Set up a password manager. Most are easy to use and mean peace of mind that your passwords won’t end up in the filthy hands of a hacker. Because you’re only required to remember one master password and forget about the rest, even the worst memories can breathe a sigh of relief.

Summary

As technology advances, so does hacker intelligence, and with data becoming more and more valuable, breaches look set to rise. Giant corporations like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook, will continuously be under threat of cybercrime, and working hard to maintain security infrastructure, so users should concentrate on protecting their data themselves.

If you would like some advice on cyber security and how it can protect your business, contact our team on 01522 883636.

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