Securing Your Online Future: Are Passwords a Passport to Lost Data?

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The internet has 2.4 billion users. Consider also that in only one minute, almost 640,000 GB of data is transferred around the globe. This means a lot of data is open to malicious and dangerous groups or individuals’ intent on claiming your information for their own

With the recent news regarding the ‘Heartbleed’ bug, it has highlighted many inherent security flaws across various systems. No one was safe. The most shocking thing is that it laid dormant in the background of systems for two years.

Password

Almost all of these systems rely on a password protection system to keep information secure. The problem today is that passwords are dangerously flawed for several reasons.

  1. We are lazy.

A sad but true fact is that people simply are too lax when it comes to internet security. A recent study found a staggering 80% of home computer users do not take adequate measures to protect themselves online.

SplashData publishes an annual list of the most commonly-used passwords. It’s amazing to think that people still use passwords such as “123456” and the classic “PASSWORD”.

The reasons for these are numerous. One is being likened to that of car insurance; you do not realise how important it is until you really need it. People who have never had a problem with internet security simply do not consider making their data more secure. Also, having to think of many password for several accounts is something that is proving to be a practice many people do not want to do. Which leads to another reasons why passwords are fast becoming a problem…

  1. Too many accounts.

Today, the average person aged between 25-34 have approximately 40 active online accounts. To have unique passwords for each one is becoming vastly impractical.

  1. Conditioned by years of old password behaviours.

We have grown so accustomed to our standard use of passwords it is very difficult to break the trend. As mentioned, we just don’t care until it’s too late to do anything about it. A recent study by a student from the Victoria University of Wellington has categorised typical security users as such:

  • Mouse – Timid users with low confidence
  • Ostrich – Low awareness of risks, or ignores risks completely
  • Coyote – Knowledgeable but will take risks
  • Dark Horse – Very good at protecting themselves online but low level of confidence
  • Cockerel – Very proud of their advanced security knowledge

Looking ahead

So what does the future hold? Well, right now, there are several avenues of internet security to explore. However, no one solution can be agreed upon. Biometrics, applications and two-factor authentication are all employed at some level right now. But all have their flaws.

Which is human nature surprisingly. We just refuse to change our ways in an ever evolving world of communication.It is our inability to change with technology that is ultimately preventing progression.

Considering £215 billion pounds is lost each year to online fraud and cyber-criminal actions, maybe it’s time to change our nature for good.

[Image source: digitaltrends.com]

About the author:Written by Mike Summerton on behalf of HANDD, who provides secure file encryption and data transfer solutions. 

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