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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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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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