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World Password Day 2018: Security Starts at Home

After innocuous amounts of cyber-attacks, data breaches and hackings; World Password Day this year looks to focus even more on the future technology can play in password protection, alongside individuals.

By April Slattery

Security and passwords have always been part of our day to day lives; whether it’s unlocking your phone or logging into email accounts. However today, the importance of securing a password is much higher on the priority list than it ever has been before.

World Password Day, celebrated on the first Thursday of May each year, looks to promote proper security hygiene in a world that is increasingly threatened from every angle.

Umpteen cybersecurity issues, data breaches and hacks have all made the headlines in the last year; with organisations and individuals urged to take more measures to protect themselves and their businesses.

As tedious as they are, securing passwords is an essential part of our lives. Getting security right with passwords could be the difference between stolen data; being hacked and protecting all your secrets.

Passwords make up just a small part to the equation; security is only as good as its weakest link and that is why it is essential organisations and consumers step up their security game on World Password Day this year.

Password Problems

What are the problems? Many organisations find lack of change in passwords, due to user convenience, has been a large stint in failing to effectively secure passwords.

Other areas of concern, are around the single protection of passwords; despite the rise of two-factor authentication.

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“It’s safe to say that most of us are fed up with usernames and passwords,” Robin Tombs, CEO at Yoti, told Computer Business Review. “We know we should use stronger, unique passwords but it’s not that easy to remember hundreds of different login details. The number of recent data breaches shows that passwords no longer offer adequate protection for our online accounts. It’s clear that we need a modern solution that makes life easier for the average person, but harder for fraudsters.”

Research from McAfee revealed that over three quarters (83 percent) of IT professionals store sensitive data in the public cloud; yet a quarter have experienced data theft. McAfeeblamed users re-using the same passwords across a range of platforms, suggesting that the way forward for successful security is for businesses to educate employees about the basics before the big business.

“With each new service comes a new password, or at least it should,” Nigel Hawthorn, data privacy expert at McAfee’s cloud security business unit, told Computer Business Review. “Passwords have long been a problem for businesses looking to secure data, however passwords are only one part of the issue. Businesses must first educate employees about basic password hygiene; no matter how good the password is if hackers using passwords time and time again hacks that can be traced back to a reused password are a dime a dozen.”

What does the Future hold?

In the wake of emerging technology, biometrics have fast become a popular protection and security method; through either touch or facial recognition, it is individual to a user and much harder to bypass.

With the like of smartphones and smart laptops incorporating biometrics into security it seems the technology that took the world by storm is soon to become the norm.

“Password Managers are a great tool for anyone wishing to have an easier and more secure way to log into their accounts and manage their login details,” Robin Tombs, CEO, Yoti said. “A Password Manager should not rely on a master password, which could easily be hacked, but be linked to biometrics, which are unique to each person and give us a simpler, faster and safer way to access our accounts whilst offering greater protection of our personal data.”

Biometric technology has not only been favoured by organisations and technology companies themselves, but users have admitted to trusting biometrics much more than traditional passwords; according to research from Unisys.

The research found 65 percent of respondents would trust biometrics more because they believe it is more secure, also stating they would trust organisations that use biometrics more than those that do not.

“We are seeing the need for more than just the traditional password and PIN as the sole method of authentication,” Salvatore Sinno, Global Chief Security Architect at Unisys, said. “Mobile device usage has bought biometrics to the mainstream as more people access their phones via a fingerprint reader. With the arrival of the iPhone X, facial recognition will most likely become just as commonplace.”

Are Biometrics Enough?

Despite many across the industry, and consumers, vouching for biometric technology not everyone is. Yogesh Patel, Chief Data Scientist at Callsign, admitted he believes Multi-Factor Authentication does not offer a secure enough solution to prevent identity theft; instead he argues Intelligence Authentication is the way forward.

“We have come on leaps and bounds in biometric authentication technology; however, the ability to collect sufficient biometric data tends to be quite difficult and biometric authentication is a process that remains plagued by inaccuracy and knowledgeable hackers can bypass those barriers,” Patel said. “The solution is to incorporate hard and soft biometrics, a combination of fingerprints and characteristics, as only then can organisations truly learn customers’ profiles in order to guarantee the security of their information.”

Born to boost education and practice around password protection and security, biometrics look like a likely front-runner to bettering protection in years to come.


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