Another day … another hack. Such events are inescapably becoming almost daily news. The endless catalogue of everyday cyber crime, ranging from hacking, ransom attacks, bullying, breaches, theft and fraud, simply underlines that any crime that can be committed in our physical world can – and is – equally being perpetrated in cyber space.
Given that such attacks and breaches are making the headlines almost daily, it baffles me that companies and customers (that’s us by the way) don’t make a greater effort to protect themselves.
Camelot, The National Lottery’s operator, discovered this latest breach on Sunday and went public on Wednesday morning. Camelot says that only 26,500 of the 9.5 million registered user accounts were compromised, and that there has only been activity on just under 50 of the infiltrated accounts. They have confirmed that no money has been removed or added to any of these accounts and that the National Lottery does not hold full debit card or bank account details. The Information Commissioner’s Office says it has launched an investigation.
Camelot insists that the reason for the compromised accounts is because users have been operating the same password for multiple websites. (Sound familiar? Last week’s Deliveroo breach comes to mind).
Quite properly when we hear of a data breach we turn the spotlight onto the companies that we deal with, who are in charge of protecting our information. But it would be no bad thing for us to point the spotlight at ourselves as the other half of the equation. As consumers, we have to take responsibility too.
We have all repeatedly been advised – and frankly, must surely know by now – it is vital that a different password is used for every website. For as long as we fail to take this basic precaution, these breaches will be possible. It would seem that we’re no or slow learners.
I don’t know about you, but I have more accounts than I care to think about. A password including capital letters, symbols and numbers is difficult enough to remember for just one account. However with hacks happening more and more frequently it’s made me pull up my socks and change all of my passwords.
I choose not to have my phone or computer store my passwords, because if either device is stolen (or lost) someone will have all my information in the palm of their hand.
It’s time we all realised how vitally important it is to have safe and secure and different passwords for every account we have, especially when cyber criminals are getting wiser and more sophisticated by the minute. A password is a key. So using just one password to access all your websites means that you are effectively handing criminals the master key to all your online activity.
Hint – A password with 12 characters including a few bits and pieces can take over 2 centuries to crack … that’s the one for me!
Written by Charlotte Seymour, 30th November 2016