We all use multiple online accounts today, for everything from shopping to logging and tracking our fitness, and of course keeping up with personal and professional issues via email. They are almost always protected through the use of passwords, and this practice is so deep-rooted that companies worry about introducing other systems in case they disrupt their customers’ experience.
Ubiquitous as these codes are for all kinds of websites, however, their protection is far from ironclad. This is of increasing concern; imagine for a moment what would happen if someone could tap into your account at your favourite casino online.
As a savvy user of technology, it is important for you to understand the dangers associated with using passwords, what you can do to protect yourself today, and what is being done to keep us safer in the future.
Concerns About Passwords
Hackers are able to find out even the most obscure codes using key loggers, which note the strokes you type, and malware. These are legitimate worries, but there is something that is far more common; careless users.
Plenty of research shows that most of us suffer from “security fatigue”; the importance of using these magic words is so uniformly emphasised that it actually starts to lose its significance. Since everything requires us to think of a personal keyword to unlock an account, most people end up going for ones that are personally significant and easy to remember.
What this usually means is that passwords are often duplicated. And once cybercriminals have harvested your access codes from other website breaches, they can find your banking details and other sensitive information with the greatest of ease.
Protecting Your Passwords so That They Protect You
At this point, what you can do to look after your online security is mostly be sensible and practice safe computing. There are also a few specific protocols that you can put in place. Our main tips for all of these behaviours are as follows:
- Change your passcodes regularly
- Never repeat a security key; create a new one for every single online account
- Never log in to your personal accounts on shared devices or public networks; if you absolutely have to make sure you use a VPN app
- Perform regular scans for keyloggers and malware
- Do not enter your password if anyone is watching
- Always log off before leaving your device unattended
- Use a password manager to create random, difficult-to-crack keys, keep track of them and automatically enter them whenever you log into a known account
- To avoid hackers stealing your codes from your password manager, launch websites from inside the manager app
- Be very way of phishing scams! If you are asked to fill in your details for what seems like a sound technical reason, email the company in question and check that they are the ones behind the request
- Many banks and other facilities are now using two-factor identification; you need to enter a one-time PIN that is sent to your mobile device as well as your password in order to access your account
Future Plans and Directions for Security
The two-step verification protocol has proven very successful, and many other technologies might be involved in similar multi-layer security systems in the years to come. These mostly involve biometrics and include the well-known iris scans, fingerprints, hand geometry and DNA. Hand geometry dates all the way back to the 1980s, while fingerprint and iris technology have been seen in various smartphone incarnations.
Newer ideas are also developing, including behavioural biometrics that aggregate peoples’ behaviour in several different areas to identify them. Facial features, typing speed, location and other factors are being used in this way in Google’s Trust Score project. The effectiveness of palm vein recognition has been known for years, and it is frequently used in the healthcare industry. We may see much more if this in future, especially if it becomes less expensive.
Incredibly, every individual has a unique heartbeat, a fact that is now also being developed as an identification tool. None of these techniques is absolutely fool proof or without flaws, and many of them require extra pieces of equipment like cardiac rate monitors in the case of heartbeat recognition software. However, taken together they could provide far more security for sensitive information that what is used in the mainstream right now.