TIM DREW: Cyber security and strong passwords

Tim Drew
Tim Drew

A recent survey conducted by Experian and Cyber Aware, the government’s online safety campaign, revealed that 52 per cent of young people aged 18-25 use the same password for multiple online accounts, making it easy for fraudsters to hack into accounts.

The survey’s objective is to impress upon young people – and all other age groups, for that matter – the importance of using different passwords for different accounts, in particular email accounts.

If the combination of email address and password is the same as that used for other services and happens to fall into the wrong hands, that could lead to a crook impersonating you in order to commit fraud or identity theft, or both, and any sensitive information that you send by email can be intercepted.

It was of concern to note that 79 per cent of those surveyed shared personal information, such as their address and bank details, via email – and 67 per cent did not delete the messages.

55 per cent of those who sent their passport or driving license details retained those messages in their ‘sent’ folder; likewise 52 per cent of messages containing bank or credit card details, 66 per cent containing mortgage or tenancy agreements and 56 per cent containing handwritten signatures, remained undeleted.

Fraudsters are able to access a wealth of information about those whom they target through social media profiles and posts, so Cyber Aware’s advice is to beware of incorporating the names of family members, pets and sports teams within passwords.

A strong and separate email password which, for example, includes capital and lower case letters, numbers and special characters will significantly reduce the opportunity for a fraudster to work out what your password is and then going on to access your other accounts by asking to have your passwords reset.

• The Town Central Neighbourhood Police meeting will take place at 6.30pm at the Ardington Hotel, Steyne Gardens next Thursday, March 22.

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