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BizReport : Internet : October 04, 2019

Americans need to up their password game

Cybersecurity month is in full swing and new data out from The Harris Poll and Google notes that Americans aren't always doing their part to protect their information, and it's all because of password issues. According to the poll about 40% of Americans have suffered because of an online security breach (4 in 10) and nearly half of those have lost money because of a breach, and only 45% say they would change a password because of a data breach.

by Kristina Knight

Still, Americans are lax, as a whole, about the security of their information. Many continue to use outmoded password types including simplistic versions of passwords including 'Password', 'ABC123', and '123456'. And too many, according to the report, are using these simplistic passwords but believe because they also include a bit of personal information - like a family member's name - that they should then be secure.

Other interesting findings from the report include:

▪ 30% of Americans use a birthday as a password
▪ 59% incorporate their name or a child's name as a password
▪ 1 in 4 say they've 'tried to guess' another's password and succeeded
▪ 1 in 10 Californians have the password of an ex, a former roommate, or a colleague

For their part, Google is trying to improve consumers' security by offering updates to their products including and making it simpler for consumers to update their privacy controls, including their Password Checkup Chrome Extension.

"We're also making it easier to control your privacy with simple voice commands. In the coming weeks, you'll be able to delete Assistant activity from your Google Account just by saying things like "Hey Google, delete the last thing I said to you" or "Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week." You won't need to turn on any of these features--they will work automatically when you ask the Assistant for help. If you ask to delete more than a week's worth of data from your account, the Assistant will point you directly to the page in your account settings to complete the deletion. We're rolling this out in English next week, and in all other languages next month," writes Eric Miraglia, Director of Product Management, Privacy and Data Protection Office, Google. "We're constantly working to improve the products that billions of people use, right now. We're also looking to the future so that teams at Google, and other organizations, can build new products and develop new engineering techniques, with privacy and security as core principles. In May, we opened the new Google Safety Engineering Center where we expect the number of privacy engineers to double by the end of 2019. We've also open-sourced technologies like our differential privacy library, Private Join and Compute and Tensorflow Federated. These will help any institution--from hospitals to governments to nonprofits--find better ways to gain insights from their data while protecting people's privacy."

Just how big an issue is consumers' personal data security? Consider this: researchers found only about one-third (37%) of Americans are using two factor authentication, 66% use the same password for multiple accounts, and only one-third (34%) regularly change passwords.

But this only impacts personal consumer data? Not necessarily because those who don't regularly update their passwords at home are likely not updating or using safe passwords at work, leaving businesses also at risk. What's a business to do?

First, educate employees on how to create safer passwords and why they are necessary. Second, deploy software requiring regular password updates.

Tags: business passwords, cybersecurity month, Google, password security, password trends

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