The importance of password security
According to research conducted, 4 million Kenyans have an account on Facebook and are very familiar with social media. However, of those 4 million, have you ever wondered how many consumers have the right password protection in place to protect their Facebook and other social media accounts?
According to Bethwel Opil; Channel Sales Manager for Kaspersky Lab; “Based on research undertaken by Kaspersky Lab, it seems that many users assume that their passwords are of no value to cyber criminals and as a result, as a method of convenience, many consumers tend to use 1 password for their online activities or accounts. However, passwords are the ‘keys’ to the account holders’ personal data, private lives, and even their money – and if stolen, will affect not only individual users but also their contacts.”
As an example, a compromised e-mail gives scammers access to every account that the user has connected to it, thanks to the messages it receives notifying of successful registrations or responses to password recovery requests. In turn, a compromised account on a social networking site makes it possible to spread spam advertising and malicious links. As a result, a password to an account with an online store gives cybercriminals an opportunity to harvest financial data and spend other people's money.
Continues Opil; “As technology has increased over the years, more and more people are spending time online and making use of social media and online banking to purchase items. However, most of these services require the use of a password, and the problem comes in when consumers tend to stick to one easy and simple password for all their online interactions - making them extremely vulnerable to cybercriminals. In fact, the same survey shows that users often take the easy way out when creating and storing their passwords”.
Further to this, statistics show that password theft is a common occurrence. In 2014, according to Kaspersky Security Network figures, Kaspersky Lab products protected 3.5 million people globally from malicious attacks, which were capable of stealing usernames and passwords to accounts of various types.
Continues Opil; “While most organisations and companies in Kenya, are aware of the importance of passwords and have multiple passwords for all their accounts, this unfortunately is not true for consumers. Most consumers find no use for multiple passwords and prefer to use one password that is easy to remember for all their accounts’.
Using the same password, however, is very risky and can leave a person very vulnerable. Adds Opil; “It is for this reason why we urge users to make passwords as tricky as possible, to ensure they can stay safe from cybercriminals”.
There are a few easy steps one can take to protect their passwords from hackers and keep safe while online, which include:
- Create a unique password for each account: if one of them is stolen, the rest will remain safe.
- Create a complex password that won’t be easy to crack even using special programmes. The password should contain at least 8 symbols including upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. No pet names or dates of birth should be used.
- Do not give your password to anyone, not even your friends. If cybercriminals can’t steal it from your device, they might be able do it from someone else’s.
- Store your password in a safe place. Don’t write it down on paper; either remember it or use a special programme, from a reliable vendor, for storing passwords.
“Kaspersky Lab encourages all consumers to take note of the above tips and to always be cognisant of this ongoing problem. The more passwords you, the less chance there is of falling victim to cybercrime,” concludes Opil.