The popular 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day” depicts Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Conners. He repeats the same day of his life over and over again, waking up at 6:00 to the sound of “I got you babe” on his clock radio, repeating the same routine and making the same mistakes. Finally he takes a hard look at his habits and makes a conscious decision to do better.
This premise is popular in Hollywood, from “Groundhog Day”, “Russian Doll”, and Tom Cruise’s “The Edge of Tomorrow”. In each of these movies, the point is the same. We’re trapped by our habits and we need to make a conscious effort to improve ourselves to break free from our old ways.
Hundreds of cyberattacks occur every year and they’ll continue occurring. This is because so many people continue to use poor password habits. At this rate, we’ll continue staying stuck in the same Groundhog Day password loop.
The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report shows several bad security habits that, despite being easily solvable problems for years, we still can’t quit.
Clicking on suspicious links. 32% of all password breaches were caused by phishing and 90% of malware was transmitted by email. It is a myth that you can only be affected by suspicious links if you download and run a malicious program. You can be affected by phishing attacks and you can be affected by drive by malware downloads by simply visiting a bad site.
Reusing Passwords. By continuing to use the same passwords across multiple sites, cybercriminals can simply find or buy password and username combinations, then run automated programs to take over accounts. Reusing passwords is akin to leaving your front door wide open with a sign inviting thieves to enter, yet most people continue this practice. One particularly notable example involves the 2016 Dropbox data breach. More than 68 million user credentials were stolen. Why? Because one employee reused a password at work.
Using Weak Passwords. Short, simple passwords with no special characters simply don’t cut it. Passwords like these account for more than 80% of hacking-related data breaches. Some of the most popular passwords used today include “password”, “123456”, “qwerty” and “iloveyou”.
How Can I Break Away From The Groundhog Day Password Loop?
Use browser protection when using the Internet. Even if you only use it to check your email or social media. Scams and malware are prevalent anywhere that contains communication, your email inbox and social media accounts included.
Stop reusing passwords. If you’re worried about remembering numerous passwords, use your browser’s option to suggest a secure password and save it for you or consider using a password manager. With the options available today, there is no excuse for reusing the same password across multiple services.
Use strong passwords. A strong password includes capital and lowercase letters AND special characters. The longer and more complex your passwords are, the harder it is for cybercriminals to hack into your accounts. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out our guide: How to Create a Strong Password That You Will Remember and learn more about password safety in our article: Everything You Need to Know About Password Security
Use a Data Breach Monitoring tool. If you aren’t aware that your data has been compromised, you can’t take action to secure your accounts and avoid potential identity theft. Data breach monitoring is crucial as breaches continue to surface every day.
Know what to do when one of your accounts is breached. Breaches are so common that it’s no longer a question of “if an account will be breached. It’s “when”. Instead of allowing panic to set in and cloud your ability to handle the situation quickly, know what to do beforehand. You can learn more about this in our guide: I've Been Breached: A Step By Step Guide to Protecting Your Data