Your one new year’s resolution should be better password management

13 Jan 2020575 Views

Image: © rcfotostock/Stock.adobe.com

A new year’s resolution you can tick off right now is developing better online security habits with a password manager.

The one solid tech prediction I can make for 2020 is that you will be one of many victims of a data breach.

Midway through 2019, data breaches were already up 54pc on the previous year, and 2020 is likely to see that rising trend continue.

Chances are you have already been exposed. Chances are you use the same login credentials revealed in a breach to access another platform. Chances are you are at risk. And chances are you do very little to mitigate that.

We all know the guidance on changing passwords regularly and ensuring they are strong enough to resist the simplest of hacks, but very few actually heed it. Time and again we hear about bad password practice. Out of a whopping 500m leaked passwords analysed by NordPass, it was found that there are still millions of users relying on the old ‘12345’ sequence.

‘Breaches are inevitable, but your own passive password protection doesn’t have to be’

Now, it’s no surprise that millions of the passwords that have been leaked from breaches are the worst examples of protection, but even if you think you’re good at setting and changing unique passwords, you may well have been affected at some point. Just a quick visit to Have I Been Pwned will tell you that.

According to its website, the top 10 largest breaches observed by Have I Been Pwned have left a total of more than 5bn accounts exposed. Chances are you own one of them. And large-scale data breaches aren’t getting any rarer.

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While cybersecurity teams the world over race to keep one small step ahead of hackers, there’s no ignoring the skills gap in this industry. As of November 2019, the ISC2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study found that Europe’s cybersecurity skills gap had doubled, with an estimated 291,000 more security professionals needed to meet business demands. Globally, this workforce needs to grow by 145pc to close the skills gap.

This hill looks unsurmountable, which means the level of cybersecurity in organisations will simply not be capable of protecting against the number of attacks.

Breaches are inevitable, but your own passive password protection doesn’t have to be. And it’s one thing when your bad password hygiene impacts only you, but often one weak human link in the organisational chain can bring down a whole business.

So, while you’re setting your new year’s resolutions, please consider better password practice as one of them. These days, you don’t even have to take this on yourself, with plenty of password managers willing to do the job for you. The excuse of having too many passwords to maintain at a secure level is now moot – with a password manager you can settle for maintaining just the one.

Of course, there are other worthy new year’s resolutions to consider, but the good news about this one is you can do it today and not have to worry about it for much of the rest of the year. It’s one box you can satisfyingly tick for an improvement in 2020.

You’ll thank yourself when news of the next major data breach comes out. And, trust me, that won’t take long.

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Elaine Burke is the editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com