The unprecedented number of data breaches in 2014 got more of us talking about our online security habits and what we need to change. Let’s take a look at some of these conversations and discuss three things you may not have known about online security.
The dismal state of our digital security can be explained by comparing airplanes and the Internet.
Paul Kocher, one of the country’s leading cryptographers, told the New York Times that we need to look at two charts. One shows the number of airline deaths per miles flown, which decreased to one-thousandth of what it was in 1945 with the advent of the Federal Aviation Administration in 1958 and stricter security and maintenance protocols. The other shows the number of new security threats, which have increased more than 10,000-fold.
Kocher explains there is a lack of liability and urgency when it comes to online security. The Internet is still held together largely by Band-Aid fixes, and computer security is not well-regulated. As a result, over 552 million people had their identities stolen in 2014, according to Symantec. The implications are clear: At this point in the game, it’s up to us to take control of our own online security.
90% of user-generated passwords are vulnerable to hacking.
According to a 2013 Deloitte study, even passwords that are traditionally considered strong – with eight characters and a combination of numbers, letters and symbols – are at risk of being hacked. But let’s face it: The longer the password and the more symbols included, the harder the password is to remember. So most of us use a small subset of those combinations to make it easier to keep track of – and unfortunately easier to crack.
So what’s the solution? One way is to start using a password generator . A good password generator will create strong, unique passwords for each of the sites you use, solving another common problem of using the same password across multiple sites. Another option is to take advantage of 2-step authentication , which adds an extra layer of security.
Too many of us are falling victim to “breach fatigue.”
What exactly is breach fatigue? It’s a term recently coined to describe the feelings of apathy many consumers feel despite a heightened awareness of recent security threats. It seems that with the proliferation of cyber-security breaches, it’s all just become white noise; many of us have stopped paying attention to the news of hackings. Experian’s 2015 Data Breach Industry Forecast predicts that breach fatigue is only likely to grow and that we will take even less action to protect ourselves.
So what’s the lesson here? It may feel at times that our online security is out of our control and that any steps we take to protect ourselves won’t make a difference. But don’t fall victim to apathy. Just as hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks, we need to improve the ways we protect our online information.