If it feels like there have been a lot of password hacks this year, it's because there have been more than usual, and Ars Technica's Dan Goodin explains why that is. In short: Password hacking has gotten better, while our password making has gotten worse. "The result: security provided by the average password in 2012 has never been weaker," Goodin writes, which is why it shouldn't surprise you that this year we have heard about security breaches at LinkedIn, eHarmony, Yahoo Voices, and a personal horror story fromWired's Mat Honan. Last year, James Fallows told us about his wife's security situation in The Atlantic story called "Hacked!" And for all the high profile accounts, there are all the ones we don't hear about. It's happening a lot these days.
But why the sudden uptick? Goodin explains:
- Our password habits have gotten worse. "The average Web user maintains 25 separate accounts but uses just 6.5 passwords to protect them, according to a landmark study (PDF) from 2007," he writes. We have more things for which we need to create codes and it takes far too much brain space to store 25 different combos. Having the same passwords for various accounts was what did Fallows' wife in. Plus, the passwords we pick are stupid, as we learned from the Yahoo Voices hack, in which "123456" was (still!) a popular choice. It takes 10 minutes to crack a lower case 6 character password. To avoid this possible issue, we have before suggested picking dumb passwords for sites that don't matter.
- Password cracking has gotten better. "Now used increasingly for computing, graphics processors allow password-cracking programs to work thousands of times faster than they did just a decade ago on similarly priced PCs that used traditional CPUs alone," adds Goodin, who details the various tech advancements in hacking. The LinkedIn breach taught us this, leading us to the conclusion that perhaps we need to accept that the modern password isn't good enough anymore
Read more at The Atlantic Wire.