No one is immune to cyberattacks. Passwords like ‘111111’ and ‘123456’ were among the most popular online passwords last year, and some banks even allowed customers use their own names.
Observing World Password Day’s may be the best indicator of the level of vigilance required to live in the current world.
The more we exist online, the more we must work to safeguard our privacy. In a nutshell, we need stronger passwords. The issue resurfaced this week with the publication of some troubling findings from a recent survey conducted by consumer group Which?
It was discovered that cases of banking fraud got increased by 97% in the first half of 2021. And the study suggested that high-street banks should take at least some of the blame, as far too many were lacking in security protection. Six banks even allowed customers to create passwords that included their own names.
Researchers focused at the security of online and mobile apps for 15 of the largest current accounts. But, just as our banks need to be more aware of this clear and present danger, we, as individuals, do as well. However, when it comes to creating passwords, most of us don’t give it much thought. We usually only have one and use it frequently. When fraudsters discover it, they suddenly find themselves in possession of the keys to our kingdoms.
According to internet security firm SplashData, the most popular passwords in 2021 were “111111” and “123456,” with “123456789” being a popular option for people who wanted to make things more difficult. “Password” and “qwerty” were popular choices.
Bobby Seagull, a maths instructor who found fame after appearing in University Challenge in 2017, has been inspired by the challenge of devising secure yet easy-to-remember passwords.
“It’s assumed that users haven’t made their passwords more complicated in response to increased hacker activity,” he tells i.
However, part of the cause for the enormous surge in banking fraud is simply the increased use of internet banking, along with increased technological proficiency. The more we live our lives on screens, the more likely fraudsters are to “discover” us.
The banks have stated that they are aware of the situation and are taking appropriate action.
“We take our customers’ security very seriously,” adds a Metro Bank spokeswoman, “and we constantly analyse and evolve our systems to… avoid fraud.” Throughout the year, we run many pieces of fraud prevention advise, offering relevant guidance on a regular basis.”
Sarah Knowles, co-founder of Shift Key Cyber, a company that works to protect people from cybercrime, claims that scammers often scam not for financial gain, but because they enjoy the challenge.
They have successfully imitated the World Health Organization and the UK Government in the last year by creating false domains and sending text messages requesting passwords in exchange for financial contributions. Thousands of people have been duped.
“No one is immune to the threat of cyber attacks,” Knowles admits, “so cyber professionals will always be on the defensive.”
“The more security measures we put in place, the more scammers will find ways to bypass them.”
What makes a password strong?
Password strength is proportional to the amount of computing power required to crack the password. Security experts advise users to create long, complex passwords to increase the time it takes to crack. Here are some specific steps you can take to strengthen the security of your passwords:
a) The longer the password, the safer it is.
b) Avoid commonly used password patterns.
c) Refrain from using dictionary words.
d) Use unique passwords
e) Be careful where you store your passwords.
f) Two-factor and Multi factor authentication are your friend.
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