You do not want your secrets to be revealed, but you do nothing to protect them. Everything you want or try to hide can be found out with the help of only several characters–your password. Your email, your bank account, the number of your credit card, private photos–all of this can be easily exposed, and it doesn’t matter how complex your password is. We should have understood it a long time ago–the era of passwords is over. We need to find another way to secure information.
Think for a moment and try to recall how much information about you is stored in the cloud. Using all this data, any hacker, as an example, can easily persuade a customer service agent to reset your password.
Matt Honan, a senior staff writer with WIRED, had his digital life destroyed in just one hour. All his documents, messages and photos of his little daughter were simply wiped off. The hackers simply cracked his Apple, Twitter, and Gmail accounts. The passwords he used for these accounts were complex, with one of them including 19 characters. But all three accounts were linked, so when they had hacked one of them, they owned them all. Our private life is quite easy to crack. And that is because we still count on passwords and think they will protect us.
Let’s say, the hackers have got your email account password. It means that they can find out where you do your online banking. They click on the “Forgot Password” button, get the link and own your online banking account.
Matt Honan says that his unfortunate experience made him very curious of the process of cracking passwords. After conducting a detailed study, he found out that he himself can get into anyone’s Amazon, Best Buy or Microsoft account in just 5 minutes. And it will take him approximately 20 minutes to own the PayPal account of that person.
How Do They Find Out Our Passwords?
Can you learn how to crack passwords? Certainly. There are various ways to do that. They can be guessed, extracted from the password dump, filched by means of a keylogger, cracked with brute force or reset by fraud with the help of a company’s customer support department.
Is it easy to guess the password? The answer is “Yes”. No matter how many years have passed since the beginning of the electronic era, people still use easy and absolutely predictable passwords like “123456”. They also continue to reuse their passwords which is a terrible error. And do not forget that our main weak point is the so-called “socialing”. People, who know everything about you can easily own your accounts. That is why the hackers are not afraid of the security questions. They can easily answer them with the help of the information on open access.
Who Are Those Hackers?
Hackers are people who work really hard to do much harm to you. Who are they? They are usually the overseas syndicates or bored kids. While the first ones are professionals and very efficient, kids are rather innovative and unpredictable.
What Can We Do?
Your accounts can be cracked. That is the fact. But if you want to make this process harder, here are some rules to stick to:
1. Do not use a dictionary word as a password. In case you have to, then choose several different words and stick them together.
2. Every time you can enable a two-factor authentication, just do it. This kind of a system will send you a code to confirm when you log in from a strange location.
3. Do not use the same passwords for several accounts. If hackers figure it out, they will own all of your accounts very quickly.
4. The billing address and email information allow to hack your account sooner than you think. You can use Spokeo and WhitePages.com. These sites offer the opt-out mechanisms to remove your information from their databases.
5. Do not use “off the wall” number substitutions like “Ki44en”, “l0c4t10n” or “m8s1c”. Cracking tools will easily show them.
6. Always use a unique and secure email address for password recoveries. It is better to have a separate account only for these purposes. Choose a username that is not connected with you. That will make it harder to be guessed.
7. When you need to answer a security question, give fake information and remember it. The name of your best friend? Why, it is “Dreaming Closest Bedroom Fiction”.
8. Make sure your password is as long as possible. A short password, even if you think it is complex, is much easy to hack than a long one.
We have also given some advice on this topic here.
It Is Time to Change the Principle of Encryption
Passwords do not guarantee user account security. They worked perfectly at the beginning of the technological progress but now, when laptops are more powerful than high-tech workstations, it does not matter how complex your password is. Even the world-famous companies lose millions of dollars due to hacking.
It is obvious that we need to change the password-based system to real identity verification. But, first of all, we need the world to understand it and only after that we will be able to implement it.