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Painfully Predictable Passwords Are No Laughing Matter

February 4, 2016

 Editorial 

 

The most commonly used passwords in 2015 show that it is not just the businesses and institutions who need to step up to improve security

Despite the issue of cybersecurity being brought to the fore in recent years, and the array of seriously frightening cyber attacks taking place essentially every single minute, the majority of internet users have still not come to terms with the realities, as the most popular passwords of 2015 would suggest.

 

Sadly, and perhaps frustratingly, according to most surveys and research conducted late in the year, the most common password of 2015 was, once again, the pathetic  and amazingly immortal ‘12345,' which portrays the pure naivety of the many billions online. The successive passwords were no more impressive; passwords such as ‘football,' ‘qwerty’ and even, moronically, ‘password’ also made the top 10.

 

There are two different reactions one could have to such findings. The first is one of pure amusement. For some it may seem just comical by this point that one would think it is still suitable to protect their internet accounts, containing masses of confidential and personal information and conversations, of which is communicated through a world wide web fraught with danger and malicious actors at almost every corner, with the most pathetic and predictable passwords to come to mind. 

 

Though while this notion may be somewhat humorous, it is actually far from funny. The second, and perhaps the more common reaction, would be one of annoyance and real concern. Of the over 3 billion users on the internet, the majority of them use passwords which are so ridiculously easy to crack, that even the most amateur of hackers could quickly and effortlessly guess them. Those same users, however, may think nothing of it, proposing the argument that there would be nothing important for criminals to steal, or that they would not be a worthy target. But this idea is drowned in carelessness and narrow-minded thinking. While it may be true that criminals may not, at first, be more attracted to the small 2 bedroom house than the great big mansion, if they identify a window left ajar, or an unlocked door, or any kind of easily avoidable vulnerability or exposure of the smaller house, they will most definitely take advantage. This is the same on the internet. Instead of putting a lot of time, effort and resources into trying to hack an account with a complex password and sufficient security, hackers would be more inclined to attack those with much weaker passwords and greater vulnerabilities which are much easier to exploit.

 

Therefore, the top passwords of 2015 show that, overall, it is not just the job of businesses and other institutions to implement the appropriate security measures to protect data, but that it is also the role of the users themselves. When passwords are this weak, it is no wonder that security experts are worried about the prospects of the internet. If there is to be any chance of continuing to utilise the internet and technology to better the world, security and safety must be drastically improved.

Encouraging consumer  to be more responsible for their own actions will be ideal indeed. Internet users must get into he habit of creating more complex, far less predictable passwords to protect their data. This goes hand-in-hand with better security being implemented by businesses and institutions to overall build a more resilient and safer digital environment. 2015 showed little progress towards this goal, though hopefully consumers will finally wake up to the omnipresent imperilments existing in the digital age and take the necessary action they need to take. Otherwise, the future of technology, which has the potential to be so bright, will be very bleak.

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