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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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Meet the ambassador to the future

Tilly Lockey, 14, lost her hands as a toddler, but sees it as a massive opportunity to embrace technology. She chatted with ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK about the human of tomorrow.

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Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

It is a description that defines 14-year-old Tilly Lockey: She lost her hands at the age of 15 months, and now uses bionic hands to show the world how to overcome disability.

That could easily read as an advertisement for a prosthetics company, but Tilly refuses to be defined by marketing messages. She has not only embraced what is supposed to be a disability, but wants to become nothing less than an ambassador to the future.

Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

That is in effect what she is achieving by pushing the boundaries of what is possible with artificial hands. It means that, eventually, she will have more capabilities built into her body than most able-bodied humans can imagine. She collaborates closely with Open Bionics, a start-up that is using 3D printing to create low-cost prosthetics with high-tech capabilities.

“I have very high hopes for the future,” she said during a chat on the sidelines of the SingularityU Summit at Kyalami north of Johannesburg. From Newcastle-on-Tyne in the United Kingdom, she was at the Summit as a guest speaker, chaperoned by her father Adam and sister Tia. 

“When I started working with Open Bionics, I wanted it to include lighting, music, Bluetooth, a projector in my palm, all over-optimistic things. But then I feel that is not too far away, and then a disability would turn into and enhancement of normal human hands. I’m really excited about it.

“I know there’s a couple of things they are working on right now, like trying to get the built-in battery thinner, because it’s hard to get overcoats and jackets over it, so they are trying to get the hands slimmer. They’re working on haptic feedback, to give a sense of touch of vibration, which tells me of I have a good grip on something. It could be coming soon. These hands I’m using now were made in the past five years. In another five years, I think we’ll have all of it.”

The hands in question are called Hero Arms, which its creators, Open Bionics, say is “the world’s first clinically approved 3D-printed bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics”.

Click here to read more about the development of Open Bionics’s Hero Arms.

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How Tilly Lockey became a Hero

Part 2 of ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK’s interview with Tilly Lockey explores her amazing career.

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Picture courtesy SingularityU South Africa 2019 Summit

This is the second part of this series of articles. To start from the beginning, click here.

Tilly Lockey was diagnosed with Meningococcal Septicaemia Strain B when she was 15 months old.

Her mother spotted the tell-tale signs one day in 2007: a fast-spreading skin rash that looks like pinpricks, along with symptoms like lethargy and bruising. She was rushed to hospital, but the bacterial poisoning spread so aggressively, doctors gave Tilley no chance of survival. They had to make a quick decision to amputate her hands to save her life.

Twelve years later, her future truly came into focus: “I was surprised with really cool Alita: Battle Angel bionic Hero Arms and went on the blue carpet at the world premiere of the movie with Rosa Salazar and director James Cameron.”

That pivotal moment in her life would not have been possible without the intensive efforts of her mother, Sara, to raise funds to buy something better than the metal prosthetics issued by the National Health Service in the UK. She increased Tilley’s profile with a campaign to “Give Tilley a Hand”, and today works as a fundraiser and events organiser for the Meningitis Now support group. Her involvement in an event meant she was unable to join Tilley on her trip to South Africa last week, when she spoke at the SingularityU Summit. After coming off stage, Tilley told us that Sara was her biggest inspiration in her life, and the closest to a role model.

“I’m usually a speaker at her events. I tell everyone my story and what I’m doing now and give these kids inspiration, because they often feel they can’t do anything because of what Meningitis did to them.

“I am home schooled now, which is pretty cool, because I’m able to have a career and get educated at the same time. I feel I can do a lot of things that friends can’t do. I can take a whole class on an aeroplane. I have a great time traveling and meeting so many inspiring people who are making a difference in the world.”

The form of Mengingitis that attacked her leaves hidden scars and issues that only become apparent years later. She is almost absurdly cheerful about the challenges that have faced her.

“I personally figured out that my left leg had stopped growing. I’m still finding out things it has caused, but you survive. At least I’m here and I’m alive.”

It does help that she’s comfortable in the spotlight, happy to give interviews, and eager to show what she can do with her bionic hands.

“I want to go into public speaking a lot more, and it could be an option as career. I want it to continue because it’s a lot of fun, and I feel I’ve got a story to share. If I can inspire people to change the world, I will. “

Her travels this year will still take her to Barcelona, Jakarta and New York. In the Big Apple, she will accept a humanitarian award, and intends “to give a funky speech”.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, she will take part in a fashion catwalk and do a makeup tutorial live. She learned to do makeup with one of her bionic hands when she fractured her right elbow in a fall at school

“I got makeup for Christmas and wanted to play with it, and got the idea of doing it with an open hand. It took a lot of perseverance and patience, but after studying how to do it, I was able to recreate a full makeup routine using one hand. It wasn’t a great situation at the time, but now I’m happy it happened because it got me into doing what I do now.”

What she is doing with makeup is remarkable in its own right. She gives tutorials on YouTube, where she says she is “kinda new”, as she has “only around 16,000 followers”. That may well soon expand into cooking videos.

In other words, everything is an opportunity: “I could be sad, just sit on my bed and cry, or I can live my life and realise what I’ve got: these amazing bionic Hero Arms.

“All I want to do is help give people confidence in themselves, accept who they are, accept their scars and everything about them. That they don’t have to impress everybody and just be themselves.”

Read more in the third article of the series about how family remains at the centre of Tilly’s life.

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