According to a 2014 study by Ponemon Institute commissioned by CNN Money, online computer hackers have hacked into the personal information of 110 million Americans — almost half of the U.S. adult population — exposing more than 432 million individual accounts.
So how do hackers do this? Sometimes, they take advantage of security weaknesses, like in 2013 when hackers deployed a malware attack on Target’s database and exposed the personal information of more than 40 million credit card customers. (The data breach cost Target more than $252 million.) In 2014, hackers hacked into the massive eBay database and obtained personal information from more than 145 million users. Other times hackers introduce malware into user’s software (like a web browser) to spy on the computer to obtain account information. But many times, people inadvertently share information (eg.,name, credit card information, email address, home address, phone number, birth date, and password) that acts like keys for hackers to open all kinds of digital doors. One of the most valuable of these keys is the password.
When it comes to passwords, it is important to remember Forrest Gump’s observation: “Stupid is as stupid does.” Cracking passwords is one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to accounts; of course, simple passwords do not pose any challenge. Since 2011, in the interest of teaching people about the importance of using more secure passwords, SplashData, a security software firm, has published a list of the worst passwords in the world. For 2015, the company analyzed more than two million leaked passwords to determine the top 25. Needless to say, if you are using any of these, for your own sake, change them. Now. Here are the top 20 worst passwords from 2015:
The helpful folks at SplashData present three simple tips regarding passwords to make accounts more secure. First, use passwords with 12 or more characters with mixed types of characters (and write them down somewhere). Second, avoid using the same password on all your accounts. Third, use a password manager to organize and protect your passwords.
For further reading: https://www.rt.com/usa/162376-47-percent-americans-hacked-year/
How much do data breaches cost big companies? Shockingly little