What Your Family Needs To Know On World Password Day

05/04/2017 12:08 EDT | Updated 05/04/2017 12:08 EDT
Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters
The word 'password' on a computer screen is magnified with a magnifying glass in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013. The Financial Times' website and Twitter feeds were hacked May 17, 2013, renewing questions about whether the popular social media service has done enough to tighten security as cyber-attacks on the news media intensify. The attack is the latest in which hackers commandeered the Twitter account of a prominent news organization to push their agenda. Twitter's 200 million users worldwide send out more than 400 million tweets a day, making it a potent distributor of news. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski (GERMANY - Tags: CRIME LAW SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

Chances are, your passwords need to be updated.

How do I know this? Because I lead the Canadian operations of ESET, a world class internet security company, and I'm pretty sure my passwords need to be updated.

It's one of those things none of us want to admit, but the reality is that most Canadians don't update and change the passwords they use for their myriad of online accounts nearly as often as they should.

What's more, the passwords they are using often fall short of the kind of security threshold recommended by experts to ward off cyber hacks and other unwanted intrusions into our data.

And while it's important for adults, it's even more important for kids...

As a mom, I've seen my children share everything with friends, including passwords. Hyper-sharing is part of their lives, where privacy and digital barriers are not a concern.

But from an outsider's perspective -- especially a parent's -- the risks are evident. I've seen firsthand how this hyper-sharing can cause trouble when friendships end. This is one of the things that moms need to worry about today that they did not 20 years ago - keeping their children cyber safe.

Think about it. As adults, we do everything online, from simple banking interactions, to organizing family gatherings to ordering dinner. We enter credit card information and personal details without a second thought. So it's logical that our children model our behaviour and live online.

As technology advances and the world becomes increasingly digitized, it's more important than ever that we educate children on cyber safety.

Take a look at your passwords - these are by far the weakest link in cybersecurity today. People often rely on the same username and password for all of their online accounts, which means once one account is hacked, the floodgates are opened.

Moreover, passwords are weak and changed infrequently; all of which leave you vulnerable to a security breach.

The problem is driven by both users and websites. As users, we want what's most convenient and easy to remember, while security vendors want to ensure password security doesn't alienate customers from making return visits.

If we are going to allow our children to be online and using social media platforms, we need to be taking effective measures to educate and protect them.

According to research shared in the annual "Worst Passwords List," compiled by SplashData, passwords such as "123456" and "Password" are among the most commonly used on the Internet, demonstrating the lack of vigilance and awareness when it comes to online security.

At ESET, we advocate for the use of passphrases. These are longer, more complex and easy to remember. Think about adding spaces, punctuation and capitals to your passwords for emphasis to keep you and your children safe and secure. For example, you could use the phrase "The first house I lived in was located at 435 Main Street" which could give you the password: "TfhIliwla435MS."

If you want to take it a step further, you can look into security solutions for the whole family. Use a reputable password manager. You only need to remember one master password that will keep all the others safely encrypted and locked away from prying eyes.

Use a reliable and up to date security software which will allow you to enjoy security and privacy whether your family is using a laptop, desktop, mobile phone or tablet. There are products on the market that allow you to cover multiple devices, across popular platforms like Android, macOS and Windows, with just a single license.

As parents, if we are going to allow our children -- "The Internet Generation" -- to be online and using social media platforms, we need to be taking effective measures to educate and protect them.

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