Strong passwords prevent cyberattacks

31st October 2014 By: Bruce Montiea - Creamer Media Reporter

Strong passwords  prevent cyberattacks

DAVID EMM Users should use strong passwords that cannot be guessed

Almost 315 000 new examples of malicious software appear every day, which increases the risk for consumers when using their computers, laptops and smartphones to access online accounts, says vendor of endpoint protection solutions Kaspersky Lab.

To deal with this challenge, the company offers a password manager that fully automates the process of entering passwords and other data on websites, thereby exempting the user from having to create and remember multiple passwords, says Kaspersky principal security researcher David Emm.

Since being released in 2010, the Kaspersky Password Manager has been successfully helping consumers to protect their personal information, he says.

“When you use our password manager to log in, you can rest assured that your data is safe. The software creates exceptionally strong passwords and prevents your login information from being stolen. All confidential data is encrypted and kept in a dedicated database on your computer; therefore, all you need to remember is a single master password.”

The risk of cyberthreats has increased over the years, as the use of social media has gained worldwide popularity. In addition, consumers use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, not only for personal use, but also for business purposes, says Emm.

He says one of the more prevalent mistakes that consumers make is to use one common password for all their online accounts.

“Many people also shop online and undertake online banking; therefore, if one continually uses a single password for all these accounts, it makes the hacker’s job easier.”

Emm adds that, once a consumer’s password is hacked, a cybercriminal will have insight into the entire private life of a person and be able to access all the person’s banking details.

Kaspersky Lab encourages people to be aware of cyberthreats and the ways to combat them. “Users should use strong passwords that cannot be guessed – therefore, you must avoid using passwords that are connected to your personal life, such as your child’s name or your pet’s name,” he notes.

Emm adds that a strong password comprises numbers, symbols and capital letters. “Our research found that [in choosing a password], 17% of users use their birthdate, 10% use their own names and 9% use their pets’ names. These are all easy passwords that cybercriminals can crack within minutes.”

Emm also recommends that users write down their passwords on a piece of paper to be kept at home, rather than at work, as cybercriminals, as well as people at work, will not be able to gain access to information that is written on a piece of paper stored safely at home.

He says users can also use two-step verification or two-factor authentication to protect their accounts. “This is where, in addition to a normal password, you are required to enter an additional one-time passcode to make changes to your account settings.”

Often, this one-time passcode is sent to a mobile device using an SMS, and even if cybercriminals manage to obtain the user’s password, they will not be able to obtain the additional passcode as well, he says.

“It is important for consumers to realise that no operating system can be considered safe anymore. Cybercriminals are becoming smarter in their tactics and are aware that consumers are vulnerable to malware,” he concludes.