Even though the number of internet users in India is expected to reach 420 million by June, there is still lack of awareness about password management among the masses, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks, experts said on Thursday, designated as World Password Day.

The first Thursday of May of each year is designated as World Password Day — an occasion to promote better password habits. As the government’s digital India initiative accelerates across the country, cyber security experts believe that there is an urgent need to make the masses aware about the creation and management of passwords.

“Though the government has been proactive about ‘Digital India’ and digital literacy drive, on the security front, there is not much activity. There is an urgent need of mass awareness about password management,” Faisal Kawoosa, Principal Analyst (Telecoms) at CyberMedia Research (CMR), told IANS on Thursday.

It is also important that one password should not be used for multiple accounts, because if one password is leaked, several accounts can be hacked. “If you can only remember one strong password, try a password manager. Change your passwords promptly if a crook might have got hold of them,” Sunil Sharma, Vice President (Sales) Sophos, India and SAARC, said.

He suggested the use two-factor authentication (2FA) that means running a special app on your mobile device to generate a single-use login code, or receiving a login code through SMS. Around 99 percent of children in urban areas of India use Internet and most of them use weak passwords and share them with their family and friends, a survey conducted by Telenor India revealed.

Telecom operator Telenor’s survey — conducted in 13 cities and covered 2,700 students — indicated that 54.6 percent children in urban areas use passwords with only alphabets or numbers and which are of less than eight characters. “Though India is home to the second largest Internet population in the world, majority of users, specially our children, are exposed to cyber threats due to weak and easy-to-guess passwords,” said Sharad Mehrotra, CEO, Telenor India, said in a statement.

The study found that over 35 percent children have experienced their account being hacked while 15.74 over shared that they have received inappropriate messages. A research conducted by Russia-based software security company Kaspersky Lab earlier this year showed that people across the globe still put their online safety at risk by making bad password decisions and simple password mistakes that may have far-reaching consequences.

Only 47 percent of people use a combination of upper and lowercase letters in their passwords and only 64 percent use a mixture of letters and numbers. “Earlier Internet was confined to a particular socio-economic sphere but with the advent of connected smartphones, Internet has proliferated across all spheres. As such, there is a need to understand the importance of password creation and management,” Kawoosa suggested.

Publish date: May 5, 2017 3:20 pm| Modified date: May 5, 2017 3:20 pm

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