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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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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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