With technology becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, we all are creating more and more passwords. The importance of using secure, unique passwords is growing as we trust increasing amounts of personal information to organizations and businesses that can fall victim to data breaches and password leaks. Passwords are big business for cybercriminals. One thing is indisputable: we’re going to be using them today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.
Laziness or Carelessness Can Make You Vulnerable
Harriet Beecher Stowe is credited with the quote “Human nature is above all things lazy.” We all know that we need to be wise with our passwords, but many of us ignore recommendations unless the site or app we are using requires certain factors. We use passwords that are easy to remember. Unfortunately, if they are easy for us to remember they are probably not too difficult for hackers to figure out.
This same carelessness leads us to just use the same password for everything. Making different, strong passwords for every single sight is difficult, time consuming, and can be hard to remember. If our secret word is breached, then the hacker has access to every account that uses that password!
Our passwords are just as important to keep safe as our driver’s license numbers, checking account numbers, social security numbers, credit cards and passports. Identity theft is a real concern and protecting your passwords is a big step in protecting your identity.
Insecure passwords have many consequences. For one, if a hacker cracks your password and hacks one account, he or she can use the information found in that account to be able to access other accounts. In fact, the more the cybercriminal can find out about you, the more they can do TO you. One common approach is the criminal accesses your account and resets the password.Not only do they have access to your account and its information, but they have managed to lock you out of it.
Hackers may steal from you directly by accessing your bank accounts and making unauthorized withdrawals or by accessing your credit cards and making unauthorized purchases. They could clean out your accounts in a matter of days if not hours! Even if you can dispute the charges and get some of your money back, it will take a lot of time and trouble.
Further, these cybercriminals may steal your identity. They use your information to create new accounts in your name and with your information. This could be a phone plan, a loan, or even a store credit card. In 2019 the FCC reported that stolen passwords led to losses of $92 million in identity theft, with a median loss of $894 per incident.
Impact to Businesses
Stolen passwords impact businesses and organizations as well. Stolen passwords caused 80% of data breaches in 2019. According to IBM, in 2020, internationally, the average cost of a data breach to a company was $3.86 million. In the US alone, that number raised to $8.64 million.
In business, if a hacker gains access to an employee’s account, he or she can access everything in your business or your organization. They can steal from your business in the same way they steal from an individual.
A criminal with access to your network can learn about the inner workings of your business. The hacker can start spreading false information about the company, giving you bad press. They may share information about your business with your competitors or access information about employees or customers. Subsequently, they can use this information to reach beyond the business into their personal lives and personal accounts. Finally, they could pass malware, spyware, or ransomware into the company’s network.
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