Frank Abagnale: How Safe Is Your Password?
Online and Mobile Safety In an exclusive op-ed, security consultant Frank Abagnale Jr. gives three good reasons why everyone should eliminate the bad, outdated use of usernames and passwords
For the vast majority of internet users who use the same password on multiple channels, their identity and personal information is low hanging fruit for criminals who every day make off with unwitting victims’ sensitive and valuable information.
Most users rely on passwords to access the majority of websites they frequent, but there’s a limit to how many unique or complex passwords they seem willing to use, and nobody wants to refer to a spreadsheet for every log-in. Here’s three reasons why that’s a lucrative dilemma for criminals.
1. The increasing elegance of cyberattacks
Up to 85 percent of businesses suffer phishing attacks — a figure that is expected to climb. As these lures for sensitive data become more professional, a higher percentage of victims will be reeled in. These exploits impact thousands of people who never expected or may even know, that they were “phished.”
2. The impending domino effect
Using the same or similar passwords for many websites only increases the places that can be breached. You become a prime target for cyberattacks and with minimal effort criminals have access to bank accounts, loyalty programs, health records — anywhere you use that same password.
3. You forget them more often
Sidestepping the password problem by requiring a new, unique password for each site or visit isn’t a solution. People just make up new passwords on the spot; one they will forget. This is compounded when security questions are layered in. This is only a waste of the user's time. Criminals only capitalize on this opportunity with phishing for “password reset” information, ultimately directing end users to a site where their data can be stolen.
So, what’s the solution when users hate passwords, adding more password requirements only adds frustration, and password managers merely circumnavigate the issue?
It begins with moving past a reliance on passwords that since the 1970s haven’t advanced that much at all. That’s a lot of years for criminals to figure out how to cheat the systems. If we want to stay a step ahead, passwords must be put to pasture and the new technologies that are readily available need their chance. If not, the danger isn’t going anywhere fast.