Can your passwords save you?

There’s been plenty of news about hacking in recent weeks, from local examples like Telecom and Yahoo’s email debacle, to the takeover of Burger King and Jeep’s Twitter accounts, to break-ins to Twitter, Apple and Facebook. It’s a fairly common occurrence these days, and while we might add in an exclamation mark instead of a 1 to our password and feel a bit more secure about our data, a fairly terrifying Wired article from late last year that looked into the world of online security shows that “no matter how complex, no matter how unique, your passwords can no longer protect you.” 

As writer Matt Nonan, who had his digital life wiped out in the space of an hour, says: “Since the dawn of the information age, we’ve bought into the idea that a password, so long as it’s elaborate enough, is an adequate means of protecting all this precious data. But in 2012 that’s a fallacy, a fantasy, an outdated sales pitch. And anyone who still mouths it is a sucker—or someone who takesyoufor one.” 

So with regular leaks, a black market for data and ‘a daisy chain’ of accounts and passwords, what can individuals—and the brands that hold their personal data—do about it? 

“The only way forward is real identity verification: to allow our movements and metrics to be tracked in all sorts of ways and to have those movements and metrics tied to our actual identity. We are not going to retreat from the cloud—to bring our photos and email back onto our hard drives. We live there now. So we need a system that makes use of what the cloud already knows: who we are and who we talk to, where we go and what we do there, what we own and what we look like, what we say and how we sound, and maybe even what we think.

That shift will involve significant investment and inconvenience, and it will likely make privacy advocates deeply wary. It sounds creepy. But the alternative is chaos and theft and yet more pleas from “friends” in London who have just been mugged. Times have changed. We’ve entrusted everything we have to a fundamentally broken system. The first step is to acknowledge that fact. The second is to fix it.”

Read the whole thing here. And keep hoping you’re not one of the unlucky ones.  

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