April 22, 2019 at
A study carried out by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in Britain shows that more than one-third of the population believes that hacking in an unavoidable part of life. This shows an increase in public concerns over online privacy and is a cause of concern more than at any point in the past.
This research is just one of many that political leaders in the United States of America and the countries of the European Union have in mind when they pressure companies to keep a better lock on personal data. Many companies, even those that started in the online space, have problems with keep customer data secure.
Facebook mishaps pile up
Facebook has been in the news over the last two years, and very rarely has it been positive. The wave of the poor press has continued with Facebook admitting to another mistake. Last week Facebook admitted to uploading the email contacts of up to 1.5 million people. This is yet another scandal to add to the Silicon Valley company in addition to the Cambridge Analytica debacle. The Cambridge Analytica scandal was particularly jarring for many people, as it showed just how easy it was for companies to gain access to data on people without ever having to obtain permission. Intimate details of over 87 million people were lapped up by the politically powerful company.
The worst news is that attacks are increasing and data is more porous than ever before. In fact, Gemalto’s research has shown that the first six months of 2018 had 3.3 billion data records stolen which is a 72% increase in the same time frame a year previously.
Individuals and bad passwords are key
While businesses are being reassured, the NCSC has stated that individuals must do more to protect their accounts. Relying on a company, no matter how altruistic or how secure they may claim to be, is never a good idea. Checking regularly on HaveIBeenPwned, keep changing passwords and keeping your Two Factor Authentication safe from physical harm/theft.
Individuals are more in charge of their own data and security than many realize. Research has shown that 23.3 million accounts were breached by a hacker using the password “12346”. That is nothing compared to the millions of accounts breached to using names of loved ones, favorite sports teams or players, names of pets or anniversaries such as birthdays.
These passwords are not only easy to guess, but the NCSC also went on to say, it gives hackers an insight into what a user is most likely to use as their next password. Password security is so poor among the vast majority of the population that even David Lidington, the minister responsible for cybersecurity has made calls for people to use much stronger passwords both at home and at work. He went on to say that the UK is particularly vulnerable to hacking as the finance and research institutions that drive the economy are easily hackable.
While companies are forcing people to create passwords with arbitrary changes such as having both capital letters and normal ones, using numbers in a password and adding a certain type of character it will never be as powerful as passwords that human beings can remember. Long passwords that make sense to a human brain, say experts in the field, are also harder for computers to break into.
While we may think that a password such as Green_Giraffe_Purple_Dinosaur might be an easy password to remember, a computer that needs to break it only sees 30 different characters that it needs to guess. A computer that is brute forcing these types of password would take far longer on the above password than a much shorter, much more complicated password that is difficult to remember such as 4fR%@1js9. This might seem secure to your email provider, but it is much easier for a computer to break it.