Internet users still using weak passwords a year after iCloud leak

Security experts warn than online dangers are increasing but Britons are failing to take proper measures

Security experts believe that many of the issues that existed before the iCloud photo leak still exist today, whether it be human error-based or new vulnerabilities in technology discovered by hackers.

Jonathan Sander from cyber security firm Lieberman Software said: “The consumer’s view of good security is much like their view of good health – they know they ought to get lots of exercise and use unique passwords on every website but they’re not really doing either. They’re both hard to do regularly.

“One good thing about all the breaches in the media is it has forced news programmes to repeatedly bash good practice into most people’s heads. My aging relatives can tell me they are supposed to use complex, different passwords everywhere and be careful about the emails and links they click on. They typically tell me this as they apologise while I’m wiping their machines of their latest malware infections.”

But Mr Sander added that security breaches are not just due to human error.

“People have been given conflicting advice. They’re told to protect special accounts like their Microsoft or Google account if they use those for their primary email, but then that makes them feel they can’t hit the ‘Login with Google’ button without compromising their security.

Experts say internet security can be confusing  Photo: Alamy

“People can get easily confused by all the details one has to master to do personal security well on today’s internet. As the internet morphs into the internet of things, pulling in more and more devices to be connected and services to be offered, it’s likely to get a lot more confusing before it’s done.”

Ken Westin, a senior security analyst for software firm Tripwire said that the number of risks to security online have actually increased in the last year.

“More data from our devices is being stored in the cloud and attackers are well aware of this. They are continually looking for ways to compromise cloud-based storage and eventually they will find them.

“As consumers, we’ve placed a great deal of trust in the companies that provide cloud-based services to ensure that our data is secure but we also know that it’s not possible to make any system 100% secure. The only thing that stands between the data we store in the cloud and cyber attackers is some determination and skill on their part and a bit of luck.”

But Ben Johnson, chief security strategist at cyber security firm Bit9 + Carbon Black said that the key names in cloud computing are taking protection seriously.

“Cloud security is usually as good or better than storing your information in other places. Having said that, by its nature, people and businesses use the cloud to store more and more data in a single, or at least smaller number of places. It’s like taking all the gold in the world and putting it in one place. If you can secure that one place, everyone is better, but it also creates an incredibly enticing and lucrative single target.

“There will always be weaknesses, but overall most cloud services are fully embracing security as a first-class priority. Apple, Google, Amazon and others are being trusted with lots of information and therefore have to put significant effort into security. I trust those services and I think you should too.”

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