Evernote Hack Shows That Passwords Aren't Good Enough
The Evernote hack is just the latest breach illustrating the need for two-factor authentication. Evernote is smart to take action.
Tue, March 05, 2013
PC World —
Evernote wasn't originally designed as a business service, at least until the December release of Evernote for Business. Evernote is primarily a note-taking and organizational tool similar to Microsoft's OneNote. Evernote provides a range of services--including Evernote Food, Evernote Peek, Skitch, Penultimate and more--as Web-based tools or apps across a range of operating systems and mobile platforms. Its capability to access and sync data across a broad range of devices makes it appealing as a business tool.
By its nature, Evernote is a prime example of a service where you stash both personal and professional data. Like any cloud-based service, it comes with some inherent risk. Any time you place business data in the cloud--particularly sensitive information such as customer names or addresses, banking or financial details, or proprietary company research--you are trusting the vendor to protect it. The big caveat, though, is that you are still ultimately responsible for what happens to your data.
One password to rule them all?
Evernote claims that the password data captured by the attackers was encrypted, but it still made all users select new passwords, just in case. As respected security authority Brian Krebs notes in his blog post on the Evernote breach, the standard hashing and salting algorithms used by vendors to encrypt password data offers trivial protection that can be cracked with relative ease.
One solution would be to use stronger passwords or passphrases, and to ensure that you don't use the same password for more than one service. When you do, a data breach at one vendor can expose your password, which could then allow the attacker to access all of your accounts instead of limiting the damage to the one that was breached.
Of course, remembering tens or hundreds of passwords is a bit of a Herculean task--especially if you're using strong, complex passwords. My PCWorld peer John Mello suggests a few options for simplifying password management, such as OneID, KeePass, and RoboForm.