Data breaches are getting worse, and our bad password habits are not helping. On the occasion of World Password Day, we look back at the particularly alarming facts highlighted in a recent report.
In terms of data security breaches, four major incidents have already occurred since January 2019.
May 2 was like every year World Password Day (launched in 2013 by the company Intel). It is an opportunity for security companies to advocate lazy and negligent Internet users – and companies – for an improvement in security habits. The publisher Avira, which sells password managers in particular, has published a report on password security. A study that highlights significant shortcomings in this area, which could create opportunities for substantial data protection breaches.
According to this report, not only are data breaches becoming more frequent, with four significant incidents already reported in 2019, but they are also more severe. At the beginning of the year, data leaks from “Collection #1” and “Collection #2-5” affected nearly 3 billion combinations of email IDs and passwords. The worst data breach, the hacking of 3 billion Yahoo accounts, occurred in 2013 but was not discovered until 2016, which means that hackers often have a massive lead over security researchers, who give them ample time to exploit the recovered data.
The study also points out that the more accounts we have online, the more vulnerable we are. A person with only a few dozen different accounts will already have a 9% chance of having their data put at risk. For 100 occurrences, the probability increases to 30%. The reason for this is not merely a simple proportional calculation, but a more pernicious reason: the more accounts there are, the more likely it is that we will reuse usernames or passwords. This very common habit is one of the most destructive vulnerabilities that pirates will exploit if they have the opportunity.
The password manager, an essential tool in your arsenal?
According to an online survey conducted by Avira with 2,519 respondents, bad data security habits are hard to beat. 36% of respondents save their passwords in a browser, while 35% synchronize as many devices as possible over the Internet. More than one in five (22%) admit to using as few passwords as possible, while 17% regularly use the “stay connected” options. Finally, 9% of respondents still use straightforward passwords, which significantly facilitates the work of potential intruders.
To solve this situation once and for all, the use of a password manager can be an excellent start. And if paying for a service of this kind is a problem, there are still the usual tips, which are still not applied enough: use long and complex passwords, do not choose the same identifiers for several different sites, use biometric or two-factor authentication as much as possible!