eBay hacking shows us the human factor when it comes to passwords

When eBay announced they were hacked last week, it astounded me that it was not noticed until 2 weeks ago. The hacking took place between February and March and eBay state that the only information stolen was the database with users’ personal names, usernames, passwords, email addresses, phone numbers and date of birth. It’s unknown how much of this information was taken, and thankfully there is no evidence that any financial data was stolen.

It also got me thinking about the Human Factor, which is one of the reasons why cyber attack’s like this take place. The Human Factor is where people use the same password for multiple websites, email or social media, and they also tend to use obvious passwords.

Obvious passwords include using your first name, your middle name, your wife or husband’s names, your kid’s names, your boyfriend or girlfriend’s names, your pet’s names, birthdays, and even admin. People like using passwords that are easy to remember and to make things even easier they are reused on multiple websites, social media accounts and their email accounts.

The cyber criminals who hacked eBay knew what they were after, rather than go for the obvious which is financial data, they went for personal details instead. Personal details include users’ personal names, usernames, passwords, email addresses, phone numbers and date of birth. Once they have your personal account details, they do a variety of things. They can either use your details to clone your identity or they can use your details to get your financial details.

Cloning your identity is where your details can be used to create fake passports, used to get credit cards or used to create accounts in bricks and mortar shops or online shops amongst other things. You may not know this has happened until you get a refused a loan or mortgage because you have a bad credit rating. You may also start receiving phone calls or letters from debt collection agencies.

When your financial data is compromised, you can expect your credit card to be maxed, your bank account raided and even dubious purchases to be made in your name. Dubious purchases can include buying drugs or pornography.

The Human Factor now comes into play and there is roughly a 59% chance that your eBay password is the same or very similar to passwords used in your email, social media etc. If you are one of the 59% then it’s time to start changing all your passwords.

The only way to stop this happening is to have different passwords for every account you have and make sure each password is not a derivative of another password. For example one password maybe matthewmarklukeandjohn and another one might be matthewmarklukeandjohn1.

The only real way to guarantee cyber criminals have less access to all your accounts is to use a password generator to create passwords for each account you have, and then to use a password manager to store them safely.

A password generator which I highly recommend is Norton’s Password generator which can create passwords using a variety of variables including password length, alpha and numeric characters, or upper and lower case text. Norton is part of the Symantec group who have been involved in antivirus and security since the early 1990’s. Use the password generator to create each password and save them in an Excel, Word, or text file. Updating your passwords on a regular basis is something that is also recommended.

I also highly recommend Norton’s Password manager Identity Safe which is a doddle to use. Once you have downloaded it and installed it you then use it to store your Passwords file. Also as you have your passwords stored safely there is no need to have them saved on your browser.

By following the tips outlined above you will be able to guarantee a lesser chance of any of your accounts being compromised and any harmful damage happening.