A Reminder From Yahoo: Change (And Improve) Your Passwords

A Reminder From Yahoo: Change (And Improve) Your Passwords

YahooLogo

On January 31, 2014, Yahoo announced that a major theft of mail account passwords had compromised an “ undisclosed number” of accounts. Writing from the Yahoo Tumblr blog, senior vice president in charge of Yahoo’s platforms and personalization products, Jay Rossiter, pointed out the attack was a result of a third-party database being compromised, and not from Yahoo’s own systems directly. In addition to explaining the steps Yahoo was taking to protect its members, Mr. Rossiter reiterated the importance of individuals adopting better password security habits as a general rule.

Such password thefts have become a regular occurrence, and often happen when thieves discover a weakness in the overall system – anything from a misplaced laptop to a weak password owned by a system administrator.

In January 2013, for example, a number of US banks suffered a cyber-attack known as a “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)“, in which zombie computers repeatedly and continually connected to the banks’ websites many times a second, making them inoperable to any other users. In the case of the bank attack, the technicians from security firm Incapsula [www.incapsula.com] were able to detect it and close it down before any damage was done. In tracking its source, they found that the DDoS instructions were relayed to a number of infected computers – the type that many millions of people use every day – through an innocent small business website located in England, and an overly simple password, “admin” was at the root of the problem. Click here to read the full CloudTweaks article.

With technology getting increasingly more sophisticated and instantaneous, it remains a permanent horserace between those who wish to use the Internet for business, entertainment and life, and those who wish to use it to create destruction, or to fuel crime. To the bad guys, everything is an opportunity. Consider online payments, for example. Most ordinary online consumers, when preparing to pay with their credit card, carefully check to ensure the presence of the “https://” marker at the beginning of a page’s address, which signifies sufficient encryption, and they then carefully type their credit card number into the panel reserved for just such a purpose.

Bad guys, however, see that credit card number window as something much more: it’s an open channel to a much bigger matrix. By entering a different set of code into that same space, they are able to convince the computers on the other side that they should be let in to distribute their payload. It’s known as an SQL injection. Where most people see a single-purpose form, they see a doorway. That is the difference, and it is something that must remain top of mind for all managers, not just those in IT. Passwords, much like bicycle locks, tend only to keep the good guys and amateur thieves away.

This doesn’t mean that average people are without resources, but it does mean that additional effort must be expended to make hacking more difficult, as thieves, by nature always seek the easiest route. One of the best ways to do this is to make passwords more difficult for them to guess. The most common password in use in offices across the country is still the word “password,” and the next most popular is “123456.”

People generally find it annoying to have to remember many dozens of passwords. They find it even more annoying to have to change them regularly, and even more annoying when the password requires complicated combinations of letters, words and punctuation. However, regular change, and complicated strings are essential. It makes no sense to use easily-guessed passwords such as your child’s name, or easily-deduced challenge/answer questions such as “what is your mother’s maiden name,” since these facts can be easily looked up online.

As a manager it is essential to encourage all staff – including system admins – to create passwords that are extremely difficult to crack, and which are not left lying around. This can be done through the use of password encryption software such as LastPass, (www.lastpass.com) or through specific software supplied by the IT department, or simply by encouraging people to use longer sentence strings that have meaning only to them.

Password security is a necessity. Most people would never leave their homes or cars unlocked when leaving for work in the morning, and they are unlikely to leave the door-key and alarm code under the doormat. Increased sophistication in the creation and maintenance of passwords is a small price to pay for increased security not only on a personal level, but on a global one as well.

By Steve Prentice

Follow us

Steve Prentice

Steve Prentice is a project manager, writer, speaker and expert on productivity in the workplace, specifically the juncture where people and technology intersect. He is a senior writer for CloudTweaks.
Follow us

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.


CloudTweaks Sponsors - Find out more!


Popular

Top Viral Impact

5 Considerations You Need To Review Before Investing In Data Analytics

5 Considerations You Need To Review Before Investing In Data Analytics

Review Before Investing In Data Analytics Big data, when handled properly, can lead to big change. Companies in a wide variety of industries are partnering with data analytics companies to increase operational efficiency and make evidence-based business decisions. From Kraft Foods using business intelligence (BI) to cut customer satisfaction analysis time in half, to a…

Cloud Infographic – The Internet Of Things In 2020

Cloud Infographic – The Internet Of Things In 2020

Cloud Infographic –  The Internet Of Things In 2020 The growing interest in the Internet of Things is amongst us and there is much discussion. Attached is an archived but still relevant infographic by Intel which has produced a memorizing snapshot at how the number of connected devices have exploded since the birth of the…

Are Cloud Servers The Right Choice For Your Business?

Are Cloud Servers The Right Choice For Your Business?

Cloud servers offer power, flexibility, reliability, and client friendly hosting for small and medium businesses that have outgrown shared hosting. New business hosting clients are bombarded with an incredible diversity of different choices for their site’s hosting. It can be a challenge to negotiate the range of platforms and the marketing hype that many hosting…

Cloud Infographic – Cyber Security And The New Frontier

Cloud Infographic – Cyber Security And The New Frontier

Cyber Security: The New Frontier The security environment of the 21st century is constantly evolving, and it’s difficult to predict where the next threats and dangers will come from. But one thing is clear: the ever-expanding frontier of digital space will continue to present firms and governments with security challenges. From politically-motivated Denial-of-Service attacks to…


Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading influencers in cloud computing, big data and internet of things (IoT) information. Our goal is to continue to build our growing information portal, by providing the best in-depth articles, interviews, event listings, whitepapers, infographics and much more.

You can help continue to support our community by social sharing, sponsoring, partnering or contributing to this great educational resource.

Contact

CloudTweaks Media
Phone: 1 (212) 763-0021
contact@cloudtweaks.com

Join our newsletter