Open Sesame

Every year research is carried out and published on the most popular passwords used and every year we all scratch our heads trying to understand the logic in using the ones that appear at the top of the list. The top 10 2020 version still had the same passwords from the 2019. And 2018, 2017, 2016 and so on. It just seems that many of us have issues trying to remember “different” passwords and so go for something easy, such as ‘123456’, still the most used password, or ‘qwerty’, ‘password’ and ‘111111’.

Fortunately, many online portals now have password standards, which force people to create more complex passwords, whilst most smart devices can automatically generate sophisticated 16 character passwords that are stored securely in the cloud.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have published the following infographic that provides simple, sensible but above all secure advice on how to change password-setting habits.

It isn’t just our own personal accounts that are at risk. Individual passwords and log in credential for work systems pose a huge risk of compromise for businesses of all sizes. The increase in sophistication and volume of social engineering activity as led to major brands being impacted but it isn’t always us humans who are directly vulnerable.

“Passwords have traditionally been the first line of defense for companies, but they continue to cause frustration and risk,” says John Bennett, general manager of identity and access management at LogMeIn. “Even more, password sharing and reuse remains a common practice in most businesses, with employees reusing one password an average of 13 times.”

In their 2020 Data Breach Report, Verisign found that 70% of data breaches came from an outside source, with password compromise a high entry vector into secure infrastructures. Our willingness to choose simple passwords for work systems significantly increases the likelihood of criminal compromise, the impacts of which can seriously damage a brand’s revenues and reputations.

Having a robust password management policy and process will ensure that many of these risks can be mitigated but individuals still have a role to play in the solution rather than the problem both when they are behind their desk at work or using their personal devices in a personal capacity.

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