You’ve got to pick a password or two
It has recently been revealed that the average person, who has up to 26 accounts, utilises only 5 passwords for security between them. A ‘strong’ password is now considered to be a selection of numbers, symbols and letters in a random order, that doesn’t relate to anything that anyone could guess. But creating 26 completely random and obscure different passwords means that it becomes something that even the user themselves begins to have to guess. I am admittedly a guilty member of this figure: with a memory like a sieve, I reuse passwords over and over again, perhaps changing the odd number or letter every so often, adding in a symbol maybe, hoping to outwit the new cyber-criminal who is, right at this second, trying to get at my precious personal details.
Passwords can guarantee you security and confidentiality of your details, personally and financially, which makes them just as important, if not more important than the front door key to your house. Of course it depends on what is in your house, and it could be argued that your bank statements, TV, dog and wife are a lot more important than your Twitter account.
But let’s assume that you are the average person: in your house, there are 26 different safes, containing all the money you have ever owned, and all the people you have ever contacted, and every single detail about your identity. However, you only bothered to get 5 standard Yale keys with which to protect these 26 safes. Surely, with 5 keys stretching across 26 safes, anyone would condemn you as an absolutely pathetic protector of your details and money. Now substitute passwords for keys, invisible computer codes for all those things you want to protect, and online accounts for safes. This is you: you’re practically giving away your details, average person.
Perhaps making secure passwords shouldn’t really be an issue at all: perhaps it’s our priority – ‘we all have lives to lead after all, don’t we?!’- you cry. Well, I’m not so sure, after seeing an Ofcom study, which has revealed that the average Briton spends around 15 hours per week online: that’s more than the average student spends studying (13.9 hours a week) and around fifteen times the length of time that you spend on the toilet. The more I realise that our online lives are the only lives we lead, the more I am convinced that protecting our cyber-selves should really be top of the list (yes, that’s above the bank statements, TV, dog and wife). Some spend more time online than doing anything else except for sleeping, yet put the least amount of trouble into their security.
A password is not a physical thing, so it’s hard to imagine anyone stealing it or guessing the one random code you thought up to protect your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and online banking account. However, if you type ‘how to hack an account’ into Google, the search engine is crawling with insightful tips, videos and tutorials on breaking into gaming, Facebook and email accounts. And that’s just the first page of results.
We have to accept that we live in a modern world, where crime and the internet are equally prevalent and cooperative; there are around 141 fraud victims per minute, more than there are for general theft, physical violence, rape and stalking put together. It seems that now, anyone with half an IQ and stumps for fingers can take your details, money and identity in a second, and all from the comfort of their Star Wars themed bedrooms.
I’d like to be able to say that we don’t need the internet, that we don’t need passwords: liberate us from the computer tyranny; we need zest and a new found enthrallment in life and nature. But, alas, those days of freedom and romantic wistfulness are gone. We are sellotaped, blu-tacked and paper-clipped to our monitors in this modern age: we need cyberspace and the web and all our gadgets in order to function.
So let your facial muscles disintegrate from lack of any conversation with a real person; celebrate that your fingers will become strong and inflated due to an overload of typing; relish in the fact that your eyes will soon need replacing from the exposure to constant unnatural light. If nothing else, just remember: in order to flourish in this new cyber age- where physical objects have lost all importance, except occasionally as a useful metaphor – to get yourself a good key.Tagged in: hacking, passwords, privacy, security
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