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If You Use ‘Password’ and ‘123456’ as Pass Codes, This is For You

While all the attention tends to focus on the replacement of passwords, the fact is that we continue to use them with little or no attempt being made to support users in doing so properly

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Password
Credible password meters can have a valuable role to play but misleading meters work against the interest of security and can simply give further advantage to attackers. Pixabay

If you are still using ‘password’ and ‘123456’ as your pass codes to access devices, do not blame yourself as inconsistent and misleading advice offered on some of the world’s most popular websites could actually be doing more harm than good, according to new research.

Password meters are frequently made available to help users secure their personal data against the threats posed by cyber criminals.

A study by the University of Plymouth in England assessed the effectiveness of 16 password meters that people are likely to use or encounter on a regular basis.

Published in Computer Fraud and Security, the research said there is a clear level of variation in the advice offered across the different websites.

While some meters do effectively steer users towards more secure account passwords, some will not pick them up when they try to use ‘abc123’, ‘qwertyuiop’ and ‘iloveyou’ — all listed this week among the worst passwords of 2019.

The study tested 16 passwords against the various meters, with 10 of them being ranked among the world’s most commonly used passwords (including ‘password’ and ‘123456’).

Of the 10 explicitly weak passwords, only five of them were consistently scored as such by all the password meters, while ‘Password1!’ performed far better than it should do and was even rated strongly by three of the meters.

Password
If you are still using ‘password’ and ‘123456’ as your pass codes to access devices, do not blame yourself as inconsistent and misleading advice offered on some of the world’s most popular websites could actually be doing more harm than good, according to new research. Pixabay

Over the festive period, hundreds of millions of people will receive technology presents or use their devices to purchase them.

“The very least they should expect is that their data will be secure and, in the absence of a replacement for passwords, providing them with consistent and informed guidance is key in the quest for better security,” suggested Steve Furnell, professor of information security.

The main focus was dedicated password meter websites, but the study also sought to assess those embedded in some common online services (including Dropbox and Reddit) and those found as standard on some of our devices.

Furnell has previously suggested that global IT giants including Amazon and LinkedIn could be doing far more to raise awareness of the need for better password practices.

He has also shown that over the space of a decade, most of the top 10 English-speaking websites had not expanded the password guidance they offer consumers amid the increased threat of global cyber-attacks.

“What this study shows is that some of the available meters will flag an attempted password as being a potential risk whereas others will deem it acceptable,” the authors wrote.

Password
Password meters are frequently made available to help users secure their personal data against the threats posed by cyber criminals. Pixabay

Furnell said that while all the attention tends to focus on the replacement of passwords, the fact is that we continue to use them with little or no attempt being made to support users in doing so properly.

ALSO READ: What You Need to Pack for Your Next Big Trip

“Credible password meters can have a valuable role to play but misleading meters work against the interest of security and can simply give further advantage to attackers”. (IANS)

Next Story

US Warns Spain About Risk of Opening Networks to Chinese Tech Firms

US Pressures Spain on Chinese Tech Firms

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Spain tech
The U.S. government warned Spain about the security risk inherent in opening its fifth-generation communications networks to Chinese tech firms. Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. government warned Spain this week about the security risk inherent in opening its fifth-generation communications networks to Chinese mobile technology providers.

In meetings Thursday and Friday, U.S. officials warned Spanish officials and telecommunications executives that the U.S. could stop sharing sensitive information with Spain if the Chinese firms reportedly involved in 5G technology were not excluded from local markets.

Robert Strayer, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for cyber and international communications and information policy, told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid that 5G pioneer Huawei was under the control of the Chinese government.

Spain tech
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks on the tarmac as he leaves Germany after taking part in the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany. VOA

Defense implications  

“We cannot put our important information at the risk of being accessed by the Chinese Communist Party,” Strayer said, stressing that technology developed by Huawei to accelerate connections between billions of objects has inevitable defense implications.

Huawei offers better 5G network equipment at lower prices than its competitors, according to telecommunications analysts. U.S. efforts to restrict the company’s access to major international markets have been rebuffed by allies in Europe and Asia.

The U.K. announced in late January that it would allow Huawei to equip parts of its 5G networks. Similar decisions have been made by Germany and other EU governments.

At an international security conference in Munich last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for the creation of a Western alliance against China aimed at blocking cyberespionage.

“In recent years, we have witnessed an intense communications campaign to raise consciousness over the interference of the People’s Republic of China in companies that manufacture telecommunications equipment,” said Javier Cremades, a Spanish lawyer specializing in cybersecurity.

‘Criminalizing’ competition

Cremades said Chinese laws allow official access to all information handled by technology firms. That provision, however, does not extend to European affiliates or commercial activity outside China, he said, adding that U.S. accusations against China might be aimed at “criminalizing” the competition in the rivalry with Beijing to control the world’s phone technology market.

Spokesmen from the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center said it was “feasible” to implement security measures to separate “high-risk vendors” from sensitive data and functions, although it could require design restrictions that may slow 5G network performance.

U.S. officials said other European and Asian firms that have been cleared to operate in American markets, including Sweden’s Ericsson and South Korea’s Samsung, offer 5G technology as advanced as China’s.

Spain tech
A woman and her dog walk past a Huawei shop in Madrid, Spain. VOA

Spain’s biggest telecommunications companies, including Telefonica and Vodafone, say they have taken steps to reduce Chinese input for their core systems of future data management in mobile telephones, according to the newspaper El Mundo.

But U.S. appeals to European countries to restrict access to Chinese tech giants come at a sensitive moment in transatlantic commercial relations.

Serious disagreement over European Union efforts to impose a new tax on American high-tech providers has already shaken the telecommunications sector.

U.S. diplomats have threatened to retaliate against Spain and other countries for imposing taxes that target American firms that operate a majority of Europe’s digital networks.

Also Read- US States Start Supporting Planned Parenthood Clinics

U.S. President Donald Trump “cannot become a boss who tells European countries what they can do in the EU,” said Spain’s Treasury Minister Maria Jesus Montero, who defends the tax as a way of protecting local competitors.

Spain has a had a close commercial and military relationship with the U.S. since the middle of the last century. But the influence of China has grown recently, with nearly 50% of Spain’s national debt now owned by Chinese banks.  (VOA)