A recent survey has revealed the extent to which people attempt to gain access to someone else’s account by trying to guess their password. The survey, which was conducted in 1,015 people in the United States by Beyond Identity, revealed 1 in 3 Americans has tried to guess another person’s password and 73% of them said they had succeeded at least once.
51.6% of those individuals had tried to guess the password of a romantic partner and 24.6% said they tried to guess the password of their child. 22% said they had tried to guess the password of a co-worker and 19.9% said they had attempted to guess the password of their boss or an ex-partner. 43.7% of individuals said they had tried to guess the password for another person’s email account and 32.6% had attempted to guess another individual’s phone password. Attempts to guess the password of a boss was most commonly to access their email account.
The reason for the high success rate is simple – People are bad at choosing passwords to secure their accounts. In 39.2% of cases, the person guessing the password tried to guess the password by using information that is known about that individual, and 18.4% of people said they found out the required information from the individual’s social media profile. 1 in 10 respondents said they thought they would be able to guess someone’s password from information in their social media account.
Sometimes it is not even necessary to guess a password, as password sharing is common. 50.1% of respondents said they shared the password for a video streaming account and 44.9% said they had shared a password for a music streaming account.
The survey showed 27.4% of people had used their pet’s name for a password and using the name of a child or spouse was also common. Alarmingly, a not insignificant number of people said they used their own name for their password. 18% of respondents said they had had their online banking account compromised or hacked, which is not a surprise given how bad many passwords are. When creating passwords, only 27% of respondents said they used random letters, and 30.7% said they use random characters to replace letters.
One of the best ways to create a more secure password is to use a password generator, such as those provided by a password management solution. However, the survey suggests only 37.6% of people use password generators. Gen X was the age group most likely to use them and baby boomers were the least likely, with more than half of baby boomers saying they never use a password generator.
The easiest way to improve password security is to use a password manager. Password management solutions include password generators that will generate a complex password for each account and store those passwords securely. All the user needs to do is to create and remember one complex password to access their secure password vault. That password can be a passphrase such as three or four random words. A passphrase such as that is complex and hard to guess, but easy for the user to remember.