A new survey from Security.org has revealed 68% of Americans are guilty of a cybersecurity crime! Using the same password for multiple accounts.
A password is often the only thing that stands between a hacker and an account containing sensitive personal data. A unique password should be created for each user account that has not been used at any other time in the past. In addition to being unique, the password needs to be sufficiently complex to resist automated, brute force attempts to guess passwords.
The main problem with password reuse is all it takes is for a hacker to guess one password or for the password to be exposed in a data breach for the hacker to be able to gain access to every account where it has been used.
The Security.org survey coincides with the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month and was conducted on 1,000 Adults in the United States. The survey revealed other worrying password habits. 37% of surveyed Americans said they had shared one or more of their passwords with others, and that practice is becoming more common. Last year when the survey was conducted, only 25% of respondents said they had shared a password.
In many cases passwords are shared for streaming services such as Netflix. The survey revealed there are 88 million streaming accounts that have been borrowed by individuals other than the account holder.
Also of concern is the format of passwords, as more than half of respondents said they use names in their passwords, including the name of their partner, children, or pets. That information is often readily available on social media profiles. It is perhaps no surprise given these bad password practices that 40% of the 1,000 individuals who took part in the survey said at least one of their accounts had been hacked.
There was some good news as far as password and account security is concerned. 85% of respondents said they had implemented multi-factor authentication on at least one account to add an extra layer of security. Password length has also improved year-over-year, with 84% of respondents saying their passwords are 8 or more characters in length.
This has been helped by using password generators, either those provided by certain browsers or, increasingly, by password management solutions. The number of people who use password generators nearly doubled year-over-year, rising from 15% last year to 27% this year.
Password managers are the best way to solve many of these password bad practices. They have a password generator that can be used to create complex, unique passwords for all accounts, and all passwords are stored securely. Users of password managers only need to remember one complex password – the one that gives them access to their password vault. There are also secure password sharing options available with many of these solutions and the cost is really low. Password managers such as Bitwarden have a good free tier, and the cost for premium accounts is also low – in this case just $10 per year for individual users. According to the survey, 32% of respondents now use a password management solution, up from 22% last year.