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Can we guess your password?

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Nearly half a million Yahoo! e-mail addresses and passwords were recently captured and published on the Internet. The published passwords show how nonchalant users still are when it comes to their personal information.

Guess what? It’s happened yet again‚Ķ people’s personal information, this time on Yahoo!, has been captured and disclosed. Nearly half a million users’ email addresses and passwords published on the Internet for all to see, admire and use however they want.

What does this tell us?

1. That the people who published these details online are super ninja like Internet assassins who are proving just how clever they are?

2. That the company that holds user details in question has poor user security which allows the hackers to grab this important data?

Well yes both of those things and more… it tells us just how blind internet users are when it comes to password security.

Of the 442,837 passwords that were published, the top ten passwords were:

1. 123456

2. password

3. welcome

4. ninja

5. abc123

6. 123456789

7. princess

8. sunshine

9. 12345678

10. 0

With the age old favorite ‚qwerty’ (the first six letters appearing on the top left letter row of a US keyboard, read left to right) coming in at number 11.

The number of numbers is incredible!

Despite their obvious weakness, numeric only passwords still appear popular and make up nearly 6% of the total with nearly 25% of those being a list of numeric values on the keyboard in order from 1 ‚ 0 such as 123456 or 1234.

Over 220 passwords were single digit passwords and over 90% of those were the number zero.

A similar number of six digit passwords were also ‚very’ obvious such as 121212, 111111, 112233, 123123 and the ingenious 123321.

Oh my word!

The majority of passwords were alpha or ‚letter only’ passwords and a good proportion of those comprised single generic words or names of people.

Many such passwords seem to fall under a variety of themes such as:

¬∑ Relationships ‚ Iloveyou, luvu4eva, lovers, precious, #1cheater, Ihatemen

¬∑ Sports ‚ Baseball, basketball, football

¬∑ Nicknames and names ‚ tigger, babygirl, ginger, booboo

¬∑ Religion ‚ Jesus1, iloveallah, blessed, 2jehova, all4jesus, blessingsofallah, blessme

¬∑ Exclamations & expletives ‚ whatever!, F**kyou, A**hole

¬∑ Advice ‚ trustno1, ingoditrust, no12trust, paymenow

· Challenges: Guesswho, guessthis, youllneverguess, 2hard2guess

And it’s maybe not surprising that nearly 100 passwords were something to do with James Bond 007.

Our favourites were 1stinkyman and dabiggestfoolinport.

Three lessons to be learned

Any security expert will tell you the rules for strong passwords, over and over again, ad infinitum but just because they tell you repeatedly doesn’t mean you can ignore it! Here is a radically abridged version:

1. Mix up letter and numbers

2. Use a minimum of eight characters

3. Do not use real words or sequential numbers e.g. password 1234 5678, but if you must ‚ mix them up e.g. p1a2s3s4w5o6r7d8.

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Telcos want one face

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The investments that telecommunications service providers are making in reshaping their online properties into customer-centric portals reflects the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry, says KEVIN MELTZER of Consology.

Many telcos around the world are overhauling their websites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

They are doing so because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. They have also realised that they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels.

In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and subdomains. These web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way that they design their web and mobile sites.

This coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas. For example, many operators split customers into prepaid and postpaid segments or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos.

These changes are starting to percolate through to operators’ customer service and sales strategies. Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

These sites put a wide range of information at the subscriber’s fingertips, he adds. Increasingly, for example, subscribers can log directly into their accounts from the operator’s homepage and then access a wealth of services and information. This marks an evolution from the fractured and inconsistent customer experience of the past.

Leading operators are even thinking about how their Self-Service platforms should be integrated with social media strategies to allow customers to pay their electronic bills or top up airtime with a single click from within a social network.

Whereas Self-Service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce.

Operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense. Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions.

Integrated and easy to use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators who want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.

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Talk for less with MWEB Talk

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Today, MWEB announced its consumer VoIP package called MWEB Talk, which allows users to make free network calls and get discounted rates made to landlines and mobile phones.

MWEB, today launched its new Voice over IP (VoIP) offering to South African consumers. The service, MWEB Talk, will offer users’ free on network calls to fellow MWEB Talk users’ and cheap calls to landline and mobile phone numbers. This follows the success and demand of the ISP’s existing VoIP products in recent months.

‚”We have seen a noticeable transformation in users’ Internet behaviour with consumers wanting services that complement their ADSL connectivity solution. We have seen phenomenal growth and by the end of the year will deliver over 100 million minutes on our VoIP platform,‚” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect, the ISP’s Consumer and Small Office/ Home Office Division.

MWEB has made significant investments in its infrastructure and VoIP has been prioritised on its network to ensure performance and stability of the MWEB Talk service for both businesses and consumers.

‚”In addition to the high quality of the service, MWEB Talk is also simple to set-up and users’ should experience a significant reduction in their telephone bills. By implementing a VoIP service consumers and small businesses can cut their monthly telecommunication bills by up to 55% to landline and mobile numbers,‚” says Holgate.

With no subscription fee, existing MWEB customers can log into their MWEB account, register for the service and download the application for PC and Mac as well as mobile applications that turn an iPhone, Android, and Nokia smartphone into a VoIP phone. Customers will also be able to purchase a Desktop VoIP Handset for R99 which will be HD voice ready and will support multi-extensions.

‚”We believe that VoIP is the future of telephony in South Africa and we are extremely excited to see the consumer market shift into the VoIP space,‚” concludes Holgate.

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