Opinion: Protecting your information is down to you, not just the services you use
If we’re honest, we’re all a little lacklustre about personal online security.
I think it’s because online security is mentally filed as ‘admin’, and few of us enjoy that. Life admin is often put onto the back burner because there are more important and entertaining things to do. No one thinks that they will be the target of any theft, online or offline. It always happens to someone else…until it doesn’t, and then it’s too late.
Just last year my mother was the victim of an online hack and had a great deal of money stolen from her, because the hackers were very clever and abused her vulnerabilities, taking advantage of her inherent trust in the process of online security. You never think that it’s going to happen to you or your family. You just assume that we will be ok, or have put up enough cyber barriers. My mother is a bright lady, but it can happen to best of us.
As soon as you realise how much of your personal data is out there, and vulnerable, it’s quite a sobering thought.
In businesses the impact can be far greater
From a business perspective, there are so many occasions when one shares passwords for systems openly or even have one password for everything because that makes life easier. We are inherently creatures of habit, and we want to have an easy life. You can have all the best security systems in the world, but it is the people that make it vulnerable.
In some cases, it’s because many password management systems are focused on the advanced user, but this precludes many people from starting their journey towards greater security. It’s just one factor amongst many that means only 12% of people in America are using password management tools – leaving 88% with a fundamentally weaker approach to digital security.
The most popular passwords in the world are still as simple as password123. You might think that we’d learn but we don’t! We look for the easy option, and in almost all cases, the best technology in the world cannot help with that. When I thought about building a piece of software that could help people to retain control of their passwords, it was important to embrace that human behaviour that looks for the quickest pathway, the shortcut to getting admin done!
There are real misconceptions about password security services
If you look at how they work, they try to encourage you to use a complex password, but if it’s not enforced, it comes down to you as the user to apply good practice. If we’re honest, few of us could remember even one complex password – 16 digits, letters, numbers, no words, symbols, changed every 60 days…
It’s just not practical.
When something does go wrong, especially within a business, I don’t believe that apportioning blame is the right answer. What’s done is done: the question is, how are you going to ensure that it never happens again?
One approach is to ensure that businesses themselves start to set a standard of not asking for more personal information than they actually need. In almost every instance when you come to create an account for anything online, they ask for so much and they don’t need that information. It’s a stance we’ve taken at forghetti too: you don’t need to tell us your name, address, or anything like that. All you need to create is an account with a phone number so that we know whether you’re a paying subscriber or not.
We’re living in an increasingly online world
For example, HMRC is starting to get truly digital, and for some parts of our society such as those who haven’t grown up within a digital world that’s really tough, because they have less resilience to being hacked or having their identity stolen. The chances of someone trying to take advantage of them is high, and yet we’re human: we don’t want to try and remember complicated passwords.
This is only the beginning of digital security awareness
At the end of the day, nothing can change what has happened to my mother or countless others. To be honest, I’ve never seen her crumble and lose her confidence so quickly. When you are hacked or have your identity stolen, it’s such a violation of your trust, as well as your own data.
The desire to help people protect themselves is woven into everything we do at forghetti and that includes our work with the charity MQ. They are focused on researching mental health to understand root causes of mental health challenges, not just the consequences. We’ve committed 1% of all revenues in 2019 to MQ.
So if you’re reading this and you have the same password for everything, and it’s password123…it’s time to re-think.
Mike is the founder and CEO of forghetti™. He has a passion for empowering people and businesses through technology to solve a problem we all share: keeping passwords (and therefore ourselves) safe and secure.
After starting his career in the City of London, Mike got involved in a venture start-up company working with technology, mobile telephony, and geo-location services. Marketing and technology have been at the heart of his work ever since. With over 18 years of experience in delivering technical systems for CRM, website CMS, and direct marketing, Mike is an expert at taking strategic goals and delivering them.