Weak passwords still a problem

People apparently still not aware of the importance of secure passwords

June 6, 2012

Research conducted by the University of Cambridge has shown that the average password is still rather weak.

Even in these days of many successful high profile hacks, users are failing to protect themselves with a decently secure password. Should hackers make off with a haul of encrypted passwords, the stronger your password, the less likely it will be forced and cracked.

While younger folks are typically more tech savvy than older age groups on the whole, being brought up with smartphones and the like, their elders are more likely to select a secure password.

The ages most likely to select a duff password (the likes of “password”, or that other old chestnut, “123456”) was the youngest band, 13 to 24-year-olds. Although given that young teens are much more likely to utilise rubbish passwords, that’s hardly surprising.

Indeed, those over 55 chose passwords which were judged to be twice as strong compared to the youngest age group.

According to a report on V3.co.uk, those in Germany and Korea were more likely to have a decent password, on the whole – but the overall global trend was still one of many folks not using a nearly secure enough password.

Researcher Joseph Bonneau noted: “The most troubling finding of our study is how little password distributions seem to vary, with all populations of users we were able to isolate producing similar skewed distributions with effective security varying by no more than a few bits.”

“Factors increasing security motivation like registering a payment card only seem to nudge users away from the weakest passwords, and a limited natural experiment on actively encouraging stronger passwords seems to have made little difference.”

The latter fact – that even accounts which had credit cards tied to them used throwaway passwords – is particularly worrying from a security standpoint.


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