How to childproof your iPhone or iPad


iPhones or iPads can be childproofed to ensure it’s safe for your kids. Guided Access allows you to lock your device to one specific app while Restrictions allow you to disable certain apps or websites from being accessed. Other parental control software is also available on the app store if you need more control.

http://www.businessinsider.sg/how-to-childproof-your-iphone-or-ipad-tech-parental-lock-family-2017-6/

The iPad is a Far Bigger Threat to Our Children Than Anyone Realizes.


 
When the little girl pointed at the sweets at the checkout, her mother said: ‘No, they’re bad for your teeth.’ So her daughter, who was no more than two, did what small children often do at such times. She threw a tantrum.
What happened next horrified me. The embarrassed mother found her iPad in her bag and thrust it into her daughter’s hands. Peace was restored immediately.
This incident, which happened three years ago, was the first time I saw a tablet computer used as a pacifier. It certainly wasn’t the last. Since then, I’ve seen many tiny children barely able to toddle yet expertly swiping an iPad – not to mention countless teenagers, smartphone in hand, lost to the real world as they tap out texts.
It’s ten years since the publication of my book, Toxic Childhood, which warned of the dangers of too much screen-time on young people’s physical and mental health. My fears have been realised. Though I was one of the first to foresee how insidiously technology would penetrate youngsters’ lives, even I’ve been stunned at how quickly even the tiniest have become slaves to screens – and how utterly older ones are defined by their virtual personas.
Indeed, when my book came out, Facebook had just hit our shores and we were more concerned with violent video games and children watching too much TV. Seems like ancient history, doesn’t it? Today, on average, children spend five to six hours a day staring at screens. And they’re often on two or more screens at once – for example, watching TV while playing on an iPad.
Because technology moves so fast, and children have embraced it so quickly, it’s been difficult for parents to control it. And when it comes to spending a childhood in front of a screen, this generation are like lab rats. The long-term impact is not known.
Even before iPads hit the market in 2010, experts were warning that 80 per cent of children arrived at school with poor co-ordination, due to a sedentary lifestyle.
 
 
Sue Palmer, above, believes that excessive screen time can lead to obesity, sleep disorders and aggression
Along with colleagues in the field of child development, I’d seen a rise in prescriptions for Ritalin, a drug for attention deficit and hyperactivity – a four-fold increase in less than a decade. And we’d collected a mass of research showing links between excessive screen-time and obesity, sleep disorders, aggression, poor social skills, depression and academic under-achievement.
It’s little wonder, then, that the boom in iPads and smartphones has coincided with further deterioration in the physical and mental health of children of all ages. Sadly, we’re seeing the rise of the ‘techno-tot’ for whom iPads have become the modern-day equivalent of a comfort blanket.
Recent research found 10 per cent of children under four are put to bed with a tablet computer to play with as they fall asleep. One study of families owning them found a third of children under three had their own tablets. Baby shops even sell ‘apptivity seats’ into which a tablet can be slotted to keep toddlers entertained.
Few know that the late Apple boss Steve Jobs didn’t let his own children have iPads. I wish he had gone public on this as other parents might have followed suit.
Because the earlier children are hooked on screens, the more difficult it is to wean them off.
This is not the only worry. It’s not just what children get up to onscreen that affects their overall development. It’s what screens displace – all the activities they’re not doing in the real world. Today’s children have far fewer opportunities for what I call ‘real play’. They are no longer learning through first-hand experiences how to be human and are much less likely to play or socialize outdoors or with others.
One of the most depressing examples of a totally screen-based childhood involved a ten-year-old in London. The overweight, pasty-faced little lad told me: ‘I sit in my room and I watch my telly and play on my computer . . . and if I get hungry I text down to my mum and she brings me up a pizza.’ The change in children’s play has happened in little more than a couple of decades. While many parents feel uneasy about all that screen-time, they haven’t tackled it as they’ve been so busy keeping up with changes in their own lives.

And anyway, it’s happening to children everywhere – so surely it can’t be bad for them?

But real play is a biological necessity. One psychologist told me it was ‘as vital for healthy development as food or sleep’.
If the neural pathways that control social and imaginative responses aren’t developed in early childhood, it’s difficult to revive them later. A whole generation could grow up without the mental ability to create their own fun, devise their own games and enjoy real friendships – all because of endless screen-time.
It’s getting out and about – running, climbing, making dens and so on – that allows little children to gain physical skills. Playing ‘let’s pretend’ is a creative process requiring lots of personal input.
Real play develops initiative, problem-solving skills and many other positive traits, such as a can-do attitude, perseverance and emotional resilience. It’s vital for social skills, too. By playing together, youngsters learn to get along with other people. They discover how others’ minds work, developing empathy. And, as real play is driven by an innate desire to understand how the world works, it provides the foundation for academic learning. Real play is evolution’s way of helping children develop minds of their own – curious, problem- solving, adaptable, human minds.
The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends no screen-time for children under two and a maximum two hours a day there-after. This is not just due to a proven link between screen-time and attention disorders, but because it eliminates other activities essential for building healthy bodies and brains.
 
 
 
Babies are born with an intense desire to learn about their world, so they’re highly motivated to interact with people and objects around them – the beginning of real play. That’s why they love it when we play silly games with them, such as peekaboo, or they manage to grasp some household object. This is what helps them develop physical co-ordination and social skills.
But when little ones can get instant rewards from high-tech devices, they don’t need to bother with real play. Images on a screen can be just as fascinating as the real world, and even a very small child can learn to control the images with a clumsy swish of podgy fingers.
Each time babies or toddlers make something happen on screen, they get the same sort of pleasure hit as they would from a cuddle or a splash in the bath. When they can get instant rewards by swiping a screen, why bother with play that demands physical, social and cognitive effort?
Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield says: ‘We cannot park our children in front of screens and expect them to develop a long attention span.’
She also worries about the effects of technology on literacy. ‘Learning to read helps children learn to put ideas into logical order,’ she says. ‘On the other hand, staring at a screen puts their brains into suspended animation.’
Dr Aric Sigman, who has amassed a huge database of research linking children’s screen-time to ADHD, autism and emotional and behavioural disorders, also points to the conflict between screen-based activity and reading.
‘Unlike screen images, words don’t move, make noises, sing or dance. Ultimately, screen images render the printed word simply boring at a crucial phase when the child’s mind is developing,’ he says.

Yet another problem with too much screen-gazing is that it doesn’t develop resilience.

Real play gives children opportunities to learn how to cope with challenges for themselves. Finding how to learn from their mistakes, picking themselves up when they take a tumble and sorting out squabbles with playmates all help develop the self-confidence that makes children more emotionally resilient.
This is vital for mental health, especially in our high-pressure world. So I wasn’t surprised when this month Childline warned Britain is producing deeply unhappy youngsters – sad, lonely, with low self-esteem and an increasing predilection to self-harm. The charity painted a bleak portrait of our children’s emotional state, blaming their unhappiness on social networking and cyber-bullying.
It’s understandable parents feel unable to tackle their children’s social media use. After all, it has spread like a virus. In 2012, just six years after Facebook arrived here, it was the favourite website of ten-year-old girls.
That year I interviewed three 15-year-old girls in Yorkshire who have been on Facebook since the age of ten. They said they didn’t enjoy it as much as ‘when we were young’ because ‘running our own PR campaigns’ – as they wittily described the constant need to make their lives sound glamorous and exciting – was exhausting and they often felt miserable when others seemed to be having more fun.
But they couldn’t give up the social media site as it would put them out of the social loop. ‘There’s lots of cyber-bullying,’ one said. ‘So you’ve got to try to be like everyone else.’
But we can’t go on letting our children ‘be like everyone else’ when it’s damaging them. If the next generation is to grow up bright, balanced and healthy enough to use technology wisely, parents need to take action. And that means limiting screen-time, spending time together as a family and making sure get children out to play.Some say children need to use technology because that’s the way the world is going. But there’s no need to give little children high-tech devices.
Modern technology develops at a phenomenal rate – any IT skills that children learn before the age of seven will be long past their sell-by date by the time they reach their teens.But self-confidence, emotional resilience, creative thinking, social skills and the capacity for focused thought will stand them in good stead whatever the future brings.

3 Truths About Rejection That Will Change the Way You Think.


“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” ~ Bo Bennett

The definition of rejection: To refuse to accept, have, take, recognize. We reject a million things a day. We choose one salad dressing off the shelf at the supermarket; yet the other bottles aren’t falling down in despair over it, are they? The fact is, we simply felt like Italian that day. We just weren’t diggin’ the Ranch or Balsamic. We eat our salad and our lives continue. Next time, we choose something else. Why is it then, that when someone rejects our message, our shoes, our love—that we egocentrically make it all about us? We immediately assume we aren’t good enough or didn’t do enough. 3 Must-Remembers About Rejection:

1. It’s all just opinion

Rejection, in its simplest form, is opinion about something that differs from our own. It is a “this isn’t for me,” not a “this sucks.” When we get to a place of understanding that, we can honor instead of be hurt by each other. Whenever you are feeling rejected, repeat this affirmation to yourself: “I accept this person’s opinion as how they see things at this moment. I choose to continue to see things my own way.”

2. You can find a “yes” in the “no”

A good friend of mine taught this to me and I’ve been using it as one of my strongest self-help tools ever since. For every “no,” you can find at least 5 “yes’s.” For example, if you aren’t hired for a job or your significant other breaks up with you, it’s easy to see that as a rejection or a “no.” The key to turning it around is finding the “yes.” Because you didn’t get the job (a “no”), you now get to find something better (yes!), sleep in a little later (yes), connect with your old friend who might know of another opportunity (yes!), and more. Because you’re going through a break up (a “no”), you now get to really examine what you want for your next relationship (yes!), spend some time with your friends (yes!), and let your bathroom be overrun by make up products, guilt free (yes!).

3. Changing limiting beliefs will improve your aim 

When something doesn’t work out, we’re quick to blame circumstances. However, our energy and beliefs have a major impact on how our reality plays out. If we don’t believe we deserve love, abundance and more, it is very hard to attract and accept those things into our lives.Watch the internal dialogue and you’ll soon recognize patterns of beliefs that you can reprogram. When you start to really believe you can and will succeed in life, love and relationships, you immediately improve your aim and become drawn to experiences that will help you fulfill those beliefs. Because we are human beings, it’s our nature to make things all about us. Changing this pattern might take some practice. How good will it feel though when someone tells you “no” and you see it as just another “yes” in your life?

3 Truths About Rejection That Will Change the Way You Think

Tired? Troubled love life? Try banning the gadgets from the bedroom.


Late-night fiddling with devices stimulates your brain and invades what should be a quiet space. Time to turn off

Man on mobile in bed

‘The ill effects of poor sleep on relationships is well documented.’ Photograph: Justin Pumfrey/Getty Images

Two films I watched at the London Film Festival this month jarred with me in an unexpected way. Drinking Buddies and Afternoon Delight are what might be called mumblecore movies – all improvised dialogue and plots that home in on relatively minor events in the emotional lives of their protagonists. I’ll spare you my reviews, but an incidental aspect of these self-consciously naturalistic portrayals of contemporary urban life depressed me. Namely, the proliferation of gadgetry in the bedroom, by which I do not mean sex toys.

In a scene from Drinking Buddies, for example, one half of a couple sits in bed one evening, catching up with her emails on a MacBook, while her boyfriend conducts a text conversation on his smartphone, thus rudely inviting interlopers into their intimate space. Technology similarly seeps into the bedroom in Afternoon Delight, with post-coital stressy business texting rendered as quotidian as brushing your teeth.

There is nothing unusual about this set-up these days – it’s just that these films held a mirror up to a facet of my life that I already didn’t really approve of, and projected it on to a giant screen. My bedside table usually has a phone and an iPad lying on it, as well as paper books; sometimes there’s even a laptop too, although I do try to put that out for the night with the cat, the tiny pulsating “sleep mode” light is just too obviously anathema to actual human sleep.

Is nowhere sacred? Must the ability to text, tweet or post images be at our fingertips while we’re sleeping? The fact that our books, films and alarm clocks often live in the same devices as our various inboxes and social network apps lazily justifies our need to take them to bed with us, but I am not alone in checking my emails, or catching up with current affairs last thing before lights out. I know this is not conducive to proper, satisfying sleep but I do it anyway, and wake up with a headache.

I’m just as bad when I wake up. The first thing I do in the morning is pick up my phone to check the time. Then I compulsively unlock it to “check the weather”. But as soon as my eyes fix on the screen, my attention scatters a thousand different ways, taking me down all sorts of rabbit holes until I finally set it back down, with a twitchy brain and still no idea whether it’s going to rain because it’s the one thing I forgot to check.

Another justification for taking these devices to bed is that there simply isn’t enough time to keep up with the continuous tidal wave of computer-related chores and correspondences, and therefore any quiet moment is fair game for a quick holiday-planning/sock-buying/online-banking session. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that, if the Top five regrets of the dying article (which serially returns to the most-read list on this website) were to be updated in 2033, an item about never allowing yourself a break from screen-based life to daydream or properly rest, even when ill in bed, makes an appearance.

The actor, Daniel Craig, recently credited banning technology from the bedroom as key to his keeping his marriage to Rachel Weisz a happy one. I see his point. Aside from all of this gadgetry allowing friends, colleagues and chores to gatecrash the marital bed, the ill-effects of poor sleep on relationships is well documented. One study, which chimed with me, demonstrating the positive effects of gratitude on overall wellbeing, found that poor sleepers were more selfish and less likely to feel gratitude.

Poor sleep, of course, has countless other negative effects on health, happiness and productivity. And insomnia may predict Alzheimer’s. It is not uncommon for people to tweet or update their Facebook status in the middle of the night when they have insomnia. Aside from the brain-scrambling stimulation of the internet, there is evidence that staring at backlit screens keeps brains more alert and suppresses melatonin levels (although the jury’s out on whether it scrambles melatonin production enough to disrupt sleep .)

I read this fact in an article reporting that Arianna Huffington, the doyenne of digital publishing herself, has banned phones and computers from her bedroom in the name of a good night’s sleep. This reminded me of how I felt when I read that many senior staff at Silicon Valley behemoths including Apple, eBay and Yahoo send their kids to schools based on the Steiner approach, that ban screens from their classrooms and frown upon their use at home: suckered. Could it be that these guys know better than to get high on their own supply?

Tall People Love Twitter, Short People Love Pinterest and Other Height-Related Epiphanies.


Here are two useful things I learned from our data scientists this week:

If you’re short and you want a good view at a concert, check out a country music gig. There won’t be many tall people there standing in your way.

If you’re a big-and-tall retailer, advertise more on ABC. You’ll have the best chance of reaching tall people there.

Random, right? Not really.

When mining all of our polling data, we find that certain questions are highly-correlated with almost every other question in our database. Age, gender, political ideology, race, and income are extremely common proxies for the brands we use, the TV we watch, or the types of household chores we like.

One attribute that shows up in nearly every experiment we run is height. Yes, height. How tall or short someone claims to be tells us tons of things about them.

What we see here is a classic bell curve. Naturally, the majority of people consider themselves average, with a roughly equal number considering themselves taller or shorter, respectively.

We do see nuances that throw off the curve, primarily associated with the respondents’ gender.

Men are more likely to say they are taller than their peers. Women are more likely to say they are shorter. The brainiacs here call this “Aspirational Self-Disclosure.” In English, it means that men believe they are taller because, perhaps, it projects a level of authority and attractiveness. Women, conversely, like to think they are somewhat shorter for some reason. In the end, we’re not reporting on people’s true height but, rather, their perception of their height.

Self-reporting biases aside, we find a number of traits that are highly correlated with height. Taller people, for example, tend to be better educated, more advanced professionally, and wealthier. Indeed, academic research on this topic would tell us that “heightism” is very common in American business. A remarkable number of Fortune 500 CEOs are over 6’3″. Our data says that people who say they are “much taller” are 34 percent more likely to own their own business.

Sociologists explain the origins of heightism at childhood. A taller child is likely to be better at physical activities, helping them build confidence that manifests itself in the classroom. As taller people get older, they are more likely to catch a break from a college admissions officer because they’re more ‘memorable’ or physically attractive. Studies show that when choosing between two equally-competent job candidates, an employer will choose the taller candidate 70 percent of the time.

These underlying factors lead to a number of other striking correlations. For example, there is an uncanny relationship between height and the brand of tablet someone owns. iPad users are 30 percent more likely to say they are at least “somewhat taller” than their peers. Kindle users are more likely to say they are “somewhat shorter.” The “big” correlation is found among Android/Google tablet users, who are 85 percent more likely to say they are “much taller.” This makes sense, as Android/Google users are the most likely of all tablet owners to be men.

We ran similar research on people who like to watch live concerts on television or online. People who said they were “much taller” were 61 percent more likely to say they watch live concerts “a lot.” Why would this matter to TV programmers? For one, people who say they are somewhat taller or much taller, are much LESS likely to say they like country music. Tall people are also 52 percent more likely to say that social media influences the music they listen to “a lot.”

Overall, height is one of the most common proxies we find in any research we conduct. Try some of these insights on your tallest and shortest friends. You’ll be right more often than not.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Tall People Love Twitter, Short People Love Pinterest and Other Height-Related Epiphanies.


Here are two useful things I learned from our data scientists this week:

If you’re short and you want a good view at a concert, check out a country music gig. There won’t be many tall people there standing in your way.

If you’re a big-and-tall retailer, advertise more on ABC. You’ll have the best chance of reaching tall people there.

Random, right? Not really.

When mining all of our polling data, we find that certain questions are highly-correlated with almost every other question in our database. Age, gender, political ideology, race, and income are extremely common proxies for the brands we use, the TV we watch, or the types of household chores we like.

One attribute that shows up in nearly every experiment we run is height. Yes, height. How tall or short someone claims to be tells us tons of things about them.

What we see here is a classic bell curve. Naturally, the majority of people consider themselves average, with a roughly equal number considering themselves taller or shorter, respectively.

We do see nuances that throw off the curve, primarily associated with the respondents’ gender.

Men are more likely to say they are taller than their peers. Women are more likely to say they are shorter. The brainiacs here call this “Aspirational Self-Disclosure.” In English, it means that men believe they are taller because, perhaps, it projects a level of authority and attractiveness. Women, conversely, like to think they are somewhat shorter for some reason. In the end, we’re not reporting on people’s true height but, rather, their perception of their height.

Self-reporting biases aside, we find a number of traits that are highly correlated with height. Taller people, for example, tend to be better educated, more advanced professionally, and wealthier. Indeed, academic research on this topic would tell us that “heightism” is very common in American business. A remarkable number of Fortune 500 CEOs are over 6’3″. Our data says that people who say they are “much taller” are 34 percent more likely to own their own business.

Sociologists explain the origins of heightism at childhood. A taller child is likely to be better at physical activities, helping them build confidence that manifests itself in the classroom. As taller people get older, they are more likely to catch a break from a college admissions officer because they’re more ‘memorable’ or physically attractive. Studies show that when choosing between two equally-competent job candidates, an employer will choose the taller candidate 70 percent of the time.

These underlying factors lead to a number of other striking correlations. For example, there is an uncanny relationship between height and the brand of tablet someone owns. iPad users are 30 percent more likely to say they are at least “somewhat taller” than their peers. Kindle users are more likely to say they are “somewhat shorter.” The “big” correlation is found among Android/Google tablet users, who are 85 percent more likely to say they are “much taller.” This makes sense, as Android/Google users are the most likely of all tablet owners to be men.

We ran similar research on people who like to watch live concerts on television or online. People who said they were “much taller” were 61 percent more likely to say they watch live concerts “a lot.” Why would this matter to TV programmers? For one, people who say they are somewhat taller or much taller, are much LESS likely to say they like country music. Tall people are also 52 percent more likely to say that social media influences the music they listen to “a lot.”

Overall, height is one of the most common proxies we find in any research we conduct. Try some of these insights on your tallest and shortest friends. You’ll be right more often than not.

 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

 

Girl aged four is Britain’s youngest-known iPad addict .


http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/girl-aged-four-britains-youngest-known-1844779

Toddlers becoming so addicted to iPads they require therapy .


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/10008707/Toddlers-becoming-so-addicted-to-iPads-they-require-therapy.html

Before incubation, a coworking space for start-up conception.


screen-shot-2012-08-01-at-22805-am

It is a large “coworking” office finely tuned to the requirements of people who need space to dream about their start-ups, to be creative, to find like-minded individuals just to hash out ideas, to find partners, to take constructive breaks in a comfortable environment.

Coming here costs US$125 a month, a considerably smaller fee than coworking spaces in other metropolises. Members who use the space, called CoCoon, do not need to have a start-up, but they have to have a good idea or a useful skill, and be interested in interacting with other members to build a kind of supportive community that is said to be sorely lacking in Hong Kong.

CoCoon occupies the third floor of a shiny office building. Its main founder, Max Ma, who is in the jewelry retail business, owns the space.

He said he hopes it will help entrepreneurs build small and medium-size businesses that will create employment in Hong Kong — a city where giant conglomerates run most of the show and the wealth gap is the highest among all developed economies in the world, according to UN stats.

“This is my small contribution to Hong Kong,” said Ma, whose children Theodore and Erica Ma, also entrepreneurs, help oversee CoCoon. If leased out, the space’s monthly rent would be US$25,000, he said.

When CoCoon meets its goal of having 400 paying members, it is expected to recoup all costs — but Theodore Ma stresses that costs are beside the point; the most important factor for them is maintaining high-quality members, hosting useful events and helping start-ups that will be meaningful.

“Only when our entrepreneurs succeed in satisfying their customers and users will Cocoon truly
become profitable and meaningful in the long term,” he said in an e-mail.

Having opened its doors for less than two months, CoCoon is still working on screening and accepting members, or “tenants.” An application process helps identify who would have something to offer.

The group is looking for entrepreneurs, investors who would also act as seasoned mentors, and people who can offer skills like programming or graphic design. These varied members often come here looking for partners.

In space-tight Hong Kong, CoCoon is refreshingly bright, airy and open. The main working area, taking up half the floor, is sparsely populated with large desks — no cubicles in sight. A long row of metal lockers line one of the walls, high-school style. Small office-type rooms are in the back for making the occasional loud phone calls.

The other half of the space features a coffee bar, ping-pong table, foosball table, a meditation room with three bean-bag chairs (chairs are generally all over the place) and a library of start-up and tech-related books.

“We have foosball and ping pong, because watching fast-moving objects is supposed to provide good eye exercise,” especially for workers staring at computers all day, said Darren Yung, a manager at CoCoon.

Some of the wall space is covered in bright orange dry-erase boards, where ideas, inspiration and job openings get shared. The place’s other accent color motif is the techland favorite Android green.

But other than enviable toys and ample breathing room, CoCoon offers support for innovation, something that entrepreneurs says is rather deficient in Hong Kong.

Rayfil Wong comes here to work on his project, a children’s self-help book for the iPad. He laments that the government provides only scant funding for technology and is not doing enough to encourage innovation.

“There is a lack of motivation and constant fear,” he said, adding that individuals are reluctant to step out and do something innovative.

Tenants at CoCoon say Hong Kong’s obsession with its banks is, as usual, part of the blame. “Because of the booming financial industry, a lot of talent gets sucked into those sectors,” said Vicky Wu, a former banker who co-founder of ZaoZao, a crowd-funding website for fashion designers that is set to launch at the end of this month.

For example, Wu said, local graduates in programming make a beeline for operations and tech support jobs at banks. This makes it hard for start-ups to find programmers on a project basis. But CoCoon aims to fill some of that gap by helping to connect freelancers with small business people.

Wu and her partner, Ling Cai, were CoCoon’s first tenants. But their days spent here are nearing an end, as ZaoZao has been accepted into Science Park, a bona fide incubator that provides space — and much coveted government funding. Giving entrepreneurs the means to progress in their start-ups is one of CoCoon’s goals — and ZaoZao has become one of CoCoon’s first success stories.

Source: Smart planet

Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Can’t Protect Us Anymore.


You have a secret that can ruin your life.

It’s not a well-kept secret, either. Just a simple string of characters—maybe six of them if you’re careless, 16 if you’re cautious—that can reveal everything about you.

 

Your email. Your bank account. Your address and credit card number. Photos of your kids or, worse, of yourself, naked. The precise location where you’re sitting right now as you read these words. Since the dawn of the information age, we’ve bought into the idea that a password, so long as it’s elaborate enough, is an adequate means of protecting all this precious data. But in 2012 that’s a fallacy, a fantasy, an outdated sales pitch. And anyone who still mouths it is a sucker—or someone who takes you for one.

No matter how complex, no matter how unique, your passwords can no longer protect you.

Look around. Leaks and dumps—hackers breaking into computer systems and releasing lists of usernames and passwords on the open web—are now regular occurrences. The way we daisy-chain accounts, with our email address doubling as a universal username, creates a single point of failure that can be exploited with devastating results. Thanks to an explosion of personal information being stored in the cloud, tricking customer service agents into resetting passwords has never been easier. All a hacker has to do is use personal information that’s publicly available on one service to gain entry into another.

This summer, hackers destroyed my entire digital life in the span of an hour. My Apple, Twitter, and Gmail passwords were all robust—seven, 10, and 19 characters, respectively, all alphanumeric, some with symbols thrown in as well—but the three accounts were linked, so once the hackers had conned their way into one, they had them all. They really just wanted my Twitter handle: @mat. As a three-letter username, it’s considered prestigious. And to delay me from getting it back, they used my Apple account to wipe every one of my devices, my iPhone and iPad and MacBook, deleting all my messages and documents and every picture I’d ever taken of my 18-month-old daughter.

The age of the password is over. We just haven’t realized it yet.

Since that awful day, I’ve devoted myself to researching the world of online security. And what I have found is utterly terrifying. Our digital lives are simply too easy to crack. Imagine that I want to get into your email. Let’s say you’re on AOL. All I need to do is go to the website and supply your name plus maybe the city you were born in, info that’s easy to find in the age of Google. With that, AOL gives me a password reset, and I can log in as you.

First thing I do? Search for the word “bank” to figure out where you do your online banking. I go there and click on the Forgot Password? link. I get the password reset and log in to your account, which I control. Now I own your checking account as well as your email.

This summer I learned how to get into, well, everything. With two minutes and $4 to spend at a sketchy foreign website, I could report back with your credit card, phone, and Social Security numbers and your home address. Allow me five minutes more and I could be inside your accounts for, say, Amazon, Best Buy, Hulu, Microsoft, and Netflix. With yet 10 more, I could take over your AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. Give me 20—total—and I own your PayPal. Some of those security holes are plugged now. But not all, and new ones are discovered every day.

The common weakness in these hacks is the password. It’s an artifact from a time when our computers were not hyper-connected. Today, nothing you do, no precaution you take, no long or random string of characters can stop a truly dedicated and devious individual from cracking your account. The age of the password has come to an end; we just haven’t realized it yet.

Passwords are as old as civilization. And for as long as they’ve existed, people have been breaking them.

In 413 BC, at the height of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenian general Demosthenes landed in Sicily with 5,000 soldiers to assist in the attack on Syracusae. Things were looking good for the Greeks. Syracusae, a key ally of Sparta, seemed sure to fall.

But during a chaotic nighttime battle at Epipole, Demosthenes’ forces were scattered, and while attempting to regroup they began calling out their watchword, a prearranged term that would identify soldiers as friendly. The Syracusans picked up on the code and passed it quietly through their ranks. At times when the Greeks looked too formidable, the watchword allowed their opponents to pose as allies. Employing this ruse, the undermatched Syracusans decimated the invaders, and when the sun rose, their cavalry mopped up the rest. It was a turning point in the war.

The first computers to use passwords were likely those in MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System, developed in 1961. To limit the time any one user could spend on the system, CTSS used a login to ration access. It only took until 1962 when a PhD student named Allan Scherr, wanting more than his four-hour allotment, defeated the login with a simple hack: He located the file containing the passwords and printed out all of them. After that, he got as much time as he wanted.

During the formative years of the web, as we all went online, passwords worked pretty well. This was due largely to how little data they actually needed to protect. Our passwords were limited to a handful of applications: an ISP for email and maybe an ecommerce site or two. Because almost no personal information was in the cloud—the cloud was barely a wisp at that point—there was little payoff for breaking into an individual’s accounts; the serious hackers were still going after big corporate systems.

So we were lulled into complacency. Email addresses morphed into a sort of universal login, serving as our username just about everywhere. This practice persisted even as the number of accounts—the number of failure points—grew exponentially. Web-based email was the gateway to a new slate of cloud apps. We began banking in the cloud, tracking our finances in the cloud, and doing our taxes in the cloud. We stashed our photos, our documents, our data in the cloud.

Eventually, as the number of epic hacks increased, we started to lean on a curious psychological crutch: the notion of the “strong” password. It’s the compromise that growing web companies came up with to keep people signing up and entrusting data to their sites. It’s the Band-Aid that’s now being washed away in a river of blood.

Source: http://www.wired.com