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From the editor

Top 25 most common passwords of 2014 announced

The top 25 most commonly used passwords of 2014 sheds light on an important issue. Consumers are still using the same ineffective passwords as they have each year since the list documentation began in 2011 (and likely well before). With this knowledge in hand, organizations must be the ones to take action and offer consumers with more secure means of authentication, like voice biometrics, in order to prevent password breaches and account hacks.

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Organizations need to rethink using passwords for authentication

It’s now mid-January which means a number of yearly traditions are well underway. You’ve likely reflected on the past year, made goals or predictions for the year to come and you also meticulously changed all of your passwords to arbitrary combinations of numbers and letters to be sure all of your accounts are completely secure….. everyone does do that, right?

Wrong. According to SplashData’s annual list of the 25 most common passwords (read: worst passwords ever), those topping the chart are unchanged since 2011. This means that despite numerous password hacks over the past year (including the largest scale breach of all time), consumers are still not taking action to safeguard their accounts.

The two most common passwords remain “123456” and “password.” This is following by a not surprising “12345,” “12345678,” and “qwerty” (sequential keys on the keyboard). Now let me stop and ask: how many individuals reading this right now are guilty of having one of those passwords? Or- perhaps you don’t have one of those but you use the same password/PIN for all of your accounts, from Facebook to your bank account.

It’s past the time to reflect on the security of PINs and passwords- they are outdated (as even the password inventor himself vouches). Hackers have proven time and time again that they are able to be compromised, no matter how random/secure the password is. This is why consumers have not taken it upon themselves to make a change. Breaches are going to keep happening because at the core of the problem passwords still aren’t secure. Consumers know that if someone wants to figure out a password and break into their account, changing it won’t prevent that from happening, it would just make it a little harder. Until PINs and passwords are eradicated all together, we’ll continue to be vulnerable.

This means that businesses need to be the ones to step up to the plate and take action. There are, in fact, alternatives to passwords that are easier to use and that are more secure, proven effective in real-world applications. Take Barclays Wealth & Investment Management as just one example. They have not had a single case of fraud via their voice biometric authentication system in their call center since implementation.

While various forms of account authentication exist (and are a step in the right direction), they won’t truly be effective until organizations completely eliminate PINs and passwords. Take for instance fingerprint scanning on smart phones. My colleague Brett Beranek, raised a great point in a recent conversation. Fingerprint scanning allows the user to access their phone using this biometric as identification; however, the fallback method if you don’t want to use your fingerprint is entering the PIN. In this case, perhaps the feature offers convenience to the user, but zero additional security. Until PINs and passwords are eliminated completely, phones will remain as vulnerable as they have always been.

This year I encourage you to consider a News Year Resolution that perhaps you hadn’t before- consider exploring more secure alternatives to PINs and passwords or urging the organizations you do business with to offer these solutions. In the meantime, if you’re currently using any of those passwords on the list, you know what to do…

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