New law banning some passwords in the U.K. an ‘important start,’ expert says – Winnipeg

Amid growing global cybersecurity threats, a tech expert is saying the United Kingdom is getting it mostly right with a new law.

The country is the first in the world to ban generic passwords on new smart devices.

“The manufacturer under this law, when you buy (a smart device), they will not be allowed to just simply assign a password that’s really easy to guess, like admin, or 12345 or, my favourite, password, and then just leave it at,” said Carmi Levy, a technology analyst, journalist and author.

“Survey after survey shows that the vast majority of us never bother changing those default passwords. So assign a harder password, then force us to change it as soon as we get it. That’s the new law,” he said.

Levy noted he expects other countries, including Canada, to follow suit soon.

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But, there’s a bit of a catch. It doesn’t seem to include apps or online services, he said, and may also comfort smart-device owners into a sort of apathy.

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“This is certainly an important start,” he said. But, “we seem to believe that the government can magically craft a law and we’ll all be protected. In fact, the opposite can be true, because we think that because this new law is in place we are somehow safer, so we let our guard down in other respects,” Levy said, adding this makes online users more vulnerable to attacks.

“We have a role to play no matter where we live. Don’t just rely on government. At the end of the day, the rubber hits the road with us,” he said.

For increased security, Levy said there are some things people online may want to consider adding to their toolkit.

One resource is a secure place to keep your passwords. Though there is no perfect method, he said.

“Of course, the LastPass breach happened, and that has gone down in history as one of the most egregious violations for security of a supposed security company. So, we no longer recommend LastPass, but other platforms, sure. You know, like Dashlane, like 1Password,” he said.

“Or, if you want to use a notepad that you lock in your desk drawer, that’ll work for some people too. Whatever it is, it almost doesn’t matter. Do something, because most of us aren’t doing anything, and we’re making it ridiculously easy for us to be victimized.”

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The expert said it’s also a good idea to develop layers of security, like facial, fingerprint, or voice recognition, “so I have an additional lock on that front door.”

Click to play video: 'Students, staff at University of Winnipeg concerned over info compromised in cyberattack'

Students, staff at University of Winnipeg concerned over info compromised in cyberattack

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