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The Force is not with Star Wars passwords

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In anticipation of this past weekend’s premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, many fans have clearly decided to express their excitement by making “starwars” one of their passwords.

It is one of the newest entries on 2017’s Worst Passwords of the Year, as determined by SplashData on its annual report. Use of any of the passwords on this list would put users at grave risk for identity theft.

In its seventh annual Worst Passwords report, compiled from more than five million passwords leaked during the year, “starwars” joins the list at #16.

“Unfortunately, while the newest episode may be a fantastic addition to the Star Wars franchise, ‘starwars’ is a dangerous password to use,” said Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData, Inc.  “Hackers are using common terms from pop culture and sports to break into accounts online because they know many people are using those easy-to-remember words.”

These past two years have been particularly devastating for data security, with a number of well publicized hacks, attacks, ransoms, and even extortion attempts. Millions of records have been stolen.

Even with the risks well known, many millions of people continue to use weak, easily-guessable passwords to protect their online information. For the fourth consecutive year, “123456” and “password” retain their top two spots on the list. Variations of each, either with extra digits on the numerical string or replacing the “o” with a “0” in “password,” comprise six of the remaining passwords on the list.

“Hackers know your tricks, and merely tweaking an easily guessable password does not make it secure,” says Slain. “Our hope is that our Worst Passwords of the Year list will cause people to take steps to protect themselves online.”

While some say baseball is America’s pastime, it is football that continues to dominate on the list of dangerous passwords. For the second year in a row, football is the only sport to crack the Top 25 — though it dropped four spots on this year’s list to the #9 spot.

For the romantics out there, the self-focused “loveme” has been replaced on this year’s list with “iloveyou.” Other new appearances on the list include “letmein”, “monkey”, “hello”, “freedom”, “whatever” and “trustno1.” One other new entry is “qazwsx” from the two left columns on standard keyboards – demonstrating the importance of avoiding simple patterns.

SplashData, provider of password management applications TeamsID, Gpass, and SplashID, releases its annual list in an effort to encourage the adoption of stronger passwords. According to SplashData, the over five million leaked passwords evaluated for the 2017 list were mostly held by users in North America and Western Europe.  Passwords leaked from hacks of adult websites and from the Yahoo email breach were not included in this report.

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Presenting SplashData’s “Worst Passwords of 2017”:

Rank  Password  Change from 2015 
123456 Unchanged
Password Unchanged
12345678 Up 1
qwerty Up 2
12345 Down 2
123456789 New
letmein New
1234567 Unchanged
football Down 4
10  iloveyou New
11  admin Up 4
12  welcome Unchanged
13  monkey New
14  login Down 3
15  abc123 Down 1
16  starwars New
17  123123 New
18  dragon Up 1
19  passw0rd Down 1
20  master Up 1
21  hello New
22  freedom New
23  whatever New
24  qazwsx New
25  trustno1 New

 

SplashData estimates almost 10% of people have used at least one of the 25 worst passwords on this year’s list, and nearly 3% of people have used the worst password, 123456.

SplashData offers three simple tips to be safer from hackers online:

  1. Use passphrases of twelve characters or more with mixed types of characters including upper and lower cases.
  2. Use a different password for each of your website logins.  If a hacker gets your
    password they will try it to access other sites.
  3. Protect your assets and personal identity by using a password manager to organize passwords, generate secure random passwords, and automatically log into websites.

To help protect computer users from hackers and to do its part in preventing 2018 from becoming another “Year of the Hack,” SplashData is offering the full list of Top 100 Worst Passwords, a free one-year subscription for individuals to its Gpass password manager, and a TeamsID (password manager for enterprise workgroups) demo for businesses. Each of these free resources may be found at TeamsID.com.

 

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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