If Zuckerberg, Pichai and Dorsey could lose their passwords so can you

The hacking incidents put a spotlight on how terrible is the password system.

 |  2-minute read |   10-07-2016
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Do you know how many big tech CEOs have lost control of their Twitter account in the last few weeks? Too many.

The list includes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.

And yes, don’t forget NASA’s Kepler Mission account, which was hacked this week and tweeted photos of a nude butt.

There are tech-savvy people behind these accounts and they have been hacked, almost effortlessly. Imagine the plight of lesser mortals, if someone targets them.

The problems are two: passwords and the how web accounts nowadays link together.

In most of these hacking incidents, a group called OurMine is taking responsibility. OurMine has been fairly media savvy.

After each hack, it has detailed how the accounts were hacked. In most cases the problem has been not with Twitter but with the connected accounts.

For example, Pichai’s account was hacked through Quora, which was linked with his Twitter account, while Zuckerberg fell prey to OurMine because he had a silly password over at LinkedIn.

Also read - Don't be like Mark: How to protect your password from hackers

The hacking incidents put a spotlight on how terrible is the password system. A password is a human element and just like anything that is no machine, it is the weakest link in the chain.

password1-618x33-bod_071016040627.jpg In most of these hacking incidents, a group called OurMine is taking responsibility.

Most people believe passwords are an annoyance, and rightly so.

First you have to come up with a password and then you have to remember it. Again and again, for every new web service you are going to use it.

No wonder, again and again, we have seen the most popular passwords in the world are “abcd1234” and “password”. These are easy.

Even people who tend to choose “difficult passwords” will use a mix of "spouse name + kid’s date of birth" or something similar. And even they won’t use unique passwords everywhere.

Also read - Apple to lose fans because of tough privacy laws

There are solutions like password managers and two-factor authentications, but they are too cumbersome for most people, who just want to access their email and look at pictures from their kids abroad.

What the world of tech needs is something that ends this system of passwords and kill this false sense of security. There are some solutions in the works at companies like Google and Facebook.

Let’s hope the bright engineers in Silicon Valley figure out, and soon because, as the account breaches in the last few weeks show, the world of passwords is all going to get fairly messy soon.

Writer

Javed Anwer Javed Anwer @brijwaasi

Tech editor at http://www.indiatoday.in . I review stuff. and occasionally write at http://www.dailyo.in . can speak intelese. usual disclaimers apply.

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