Improve your security #8 – change the default passwords

Very often people buy new gadgets or devices which because they are “secured” out of the box. Or, better said, this is what the producers write on their boxes, because the reality is quite different.

These devices are delivered most of the time with default passwords like “0000″, “admin”, “1234″ and so on. This is not security, this is a bad joke made by marketing people who pretend to sell security.

First thing to do when buying a new device is to change its default password. For example, many producers have started already to understand that it is not at all user unfriendly to ask for a password or PIN as first thing after the installation of a router or at the first startup of a mobile phone. Seriously, there are websites like http://www.routerpasswords.com/ for routers and thousands of websites giving the default password for most of the mobile phones available.

 

 

Unfortunately, the situation is not much better in other areas which are not related to devices but to software. For example, many wireless routers come with default SSIDs for the wireless network and with no password or with a default password like those mentioned above.

In a continuous fight between security and usability, many forget that it is actually absolutely OK to reduce the usability a little in order to have a minimum security. After all, what would you prefer, to allow full access for anyone to all your photos and documents or to be forced to enter a password when enabling the wireless network access in your router?

Another issue is represented by the DECT telephones and headsets. In case you didn’t know, their default password is “0000″. The worse part is that many of them don’t even accept anything else than “0000″.

The same applies to many bluetooth headsets, but here the situation is not that bad because usually the mobile phones ask the user for manual confirmation before connecting a headset via bluetooth.

As a conclusion, please change the default password of your devices (router, smartphone, laptop, DECT phones, etc) and wireless networks.

For other useful tips related to your computer’s and your digital life’s security check our “Improve your security” series.

Sorin Mustaca

Data Security Expert