There could be many titles for this post: “Don’t call the Helpdesk at 867-5309 when your account gets compromised!” or “Jenny Jenny Please Change your Number” but I settled on Don’t “Jenny” Your Personal Privacy with Poor Password Selection.
This is an interesting story on all users lack of creativity in password creation and how this an important issue in today’s world. Every week we get new information on how cyber threats continue to grow and we often wonder how we as end users can protect ourselves. A good first step is to choose your passwords carefully with a combination of letters, capital letters, numbers and special characters if that is allowed.
“867-5309/Jenny” is a song written Tommy Tutone that peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #1 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart in 1982. The song caused a fad of people dialing 867-5309 and asking for “Jenny”. I must confess just for fun many years ago I tried it myself to see who was on the other end of the line. Interesting this number comes up in a discussion of personal privacy. There are many number patterns and sequences commonly used for passwords as shown through research, but for this post we will use the 7 digit password for our reminder.
A 2012 Datagenetics article on PIN security tells us that 8675309 is the the fourth most used 7 digit password. oFor seven digits, the standby of 1234567 is still tops the list but at a lower frequency than in the past. The phone number is rapidly gaining ground. Datagenics speculates this is because many people may be using their telephone number (without area code) as a seven digit password. Telephone numbers are fairly distinct, and already memorized, so when a seven digit code is needed, they spring to mind easily. The higher frequency of usage of telephone numbers reduces the need to use imagination (or lack thereof) and select something else. However in spite of new concerns and and continual flow of information about cybersecurity issues we still turn to numbers that are easily remembered. This leads us back to “Is Jenny there?” The fourth most popular seven digit password 8675309 is an easily remembered sequence and is driven into our heads through the chorus of the song.
Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to?
You give me somethin’ I can hold on to
I know you think I’m like the other before
Who saw your name and number on the wall
Jenny I got your number
I need to make you mine
Jenny don’t change your number
-Tommy Tutone from Lyricsfreak
Datagenetics reminds us If you are a developer, tester, or executive you should be sufficiently paranoid that you will immediately check to see that your systems do not store sensitive information, like passwords, unencrypted. Your laziness has the potential to impact millions.
If you are a consumer and you recognize any of the numbers in this article to be your passwords/pins then shame on you. I hope you apply common sense and immediately change them to something a little less predictable. Alternatively, you can be lazy and not change things (Hopefully the only person you are harming with this apathy is yourself.)