80% of data breaches are due to weak passwords – safer to not have one

Passwords used to be easy to remember as we only had a few, and we could relate them to an important event, a mother’s birthday, our first pet or a pet hate. But now we log into so many websites and need so many passwords; it has become an impossible task to ensure that they are unique and most of all safe from hackers. A quick look on my iPhone revealed that I have 429 passwords saved and every time I log into a website; it reminds me that I have the same password stored on numerous websites. How many of us are guilty of the same oversight in protecting our passwords? The world’s most popular password is 123456; next comes “password”. Qwerty is high on the list and in countries where people are football crazy; ‘football’ is a popular choice. I would guess in South Africa that Springboks, biltong and rugby could be high on the list. The World Economic Forum has just released a report in which it revealed that 80% of breaches “are perpetrated from weak and stolen passwords” which drives up the rising cost of fighting cybercrime. – Linda van Tilburg

Forgotten your password? Not having one will make you safer, says World Economic Forum

Media release

A new report released by the World Economic Forum finds that freeing ourselves of passwords will actually make us safer and businesses more efficient. Cybercrime is set to cost the global economy $2.9m every minute in 2020 and some 80% of these attacks are password-related. Knowledge-based authentication – whether with PINs, passwords, pass-phrases, or whatever we need to remember – is not only a major headache for users, it is costly to maintain. For larger businesses, it is estimated that nearly 50% of IT help desk costs are allocated to password resets, with average annual spend for companies now at over $1 million for staffing alone.

Password-less authentication does not mean removing all security barriers to our digitalised society. It means harnessing tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to save users time and save company money.

“With the growing availability of biometrics and next-generation technology consumers are demanding a better digital experience while wanting to be secure online,” said Adrien Ogee, Project Lead, Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust, World Economic Forum.  “Better authentication practices are not just possible they are a necessity.”

The report, produced in collaboration with the FIDO Alliance, introduces five top passwordless authentication technologies, ready for implementation by global companies. They are biometrics, behavioural analytics, zero-knowledge proofs, QR codes and security keys.

“Relying on passwords as the primary means for authentication no longer provides the security or user experience that consumers demand,” said Andrew Shikiar, Executive Director and Chief Marketing Officer of the FIDO Alliance. “The path forward is with standards-based, cryptographically secure authentication that keeps login info secure and private, while providing a fundamentally better user experience.”

Passwordless Authentication: The next breakthrough in secure digital transformation is part of the Future of Authentication project led by the Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust.

Global enterprises and public bodies can engage in this important strategic issue via the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust.

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