The average office worker keeps track of between 20 to 40 different username and password combinations!
With so many to remember it’s no wonder many of us use the same ones over and over or have a running list of passwords saved somewhere on our computer or phone.
Passwords are a very serious and expensive security risk. The big question is — can we break our bad habits?
The first use of the computer password dates back to the early 1960s at MIT at the time computers were these huge contraptions that could only manage the work of one person at a time. This limitation frustrated Fernando Corbato so he came up with the computer time-sharing system. CTSS was an operating system that distributed a computer’s processing power so that multiple people could use it at once. This naturally led to the issue of privacy so Corbato created the password.
Ironically the first computer to use passwords was also the first one to be hacked. He needed more time to complete his work than the weekly hours allotted to him, so he printed out all the passwords stored on the system and used them to log in as his colleagues!
Fast-forward to 2004 and a document written by the Institute of Standards and Technology said we needed eight-character password minimum, one uppercase, a number and a special character — so everyone in the world collectively went with Password1! 😂
Bad passwords are one of the easiest ways to compromise a system. For somebody who has a very common eight-character password, it can take less than a second for a computer to go through the possibilities and pull that password out.
But finding your usernames and passwords it’s much easier than that. Every time a website is hacked, the data is sold, collected and shared by the bad guys. There’s good news though — the good guys get to see it as well 😎 There’s a site out there called haveibeenpwned.com that has aggregated a bunch of data breaches. You can sign up for free and it will tell you if your information is out there. Use this knowledge to go and change all your passwords.
What else can you do?
Imagine one day you’d decided it was easier to replace your big bunch of house, office and car keys with just the one master-key for convenience. Now imagine what would happen if it was stolen. The thief could walk off with everything.
It’s the same if you use the same password (no matter how complex you think it is) everywhere. Use a different (unique) password for every single website or app you use. If you don’t and the website is hacked, then the password becomes useless anywhere else as it becomes part of the searchable collection I mentioned above.
That doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Trying to memorise your passwords is pointless — store them in a password manager like myki.com.
They also have a password-generator 🤓
Give it a try and let me know how you get on 👍
Also, thanks to advances in mobile tech — we’ve got face and fingerprint to give us two-factor authentication. If you are given the option to turn it on — whether it be an app or website — DO IT!
This is taken from my free email series to help #ProtectYourBits.
I provide weekly recommendations and expert advice on topics such as preventing email and social media accounts from being hacked, locking down devices ranging from smartphones to security cameras, and reducing intrusive tracking by websites.