Poor password practice is helping hackers win

A global survey has revealed that while people are now more aware of security best practices than ever before, their password management has remained largely unchanged.
4 May 2018

Password manager LastPass has been hacked. Here’s what we know so far. Source: Shutterstock

Despite increasing cyber attacks and a heightened global awareness of hacking and data breaches, it seems that good password hygiene is lacking.

One would think that the proliferation of  high-profile breaches – including Equifax, Yahoo, and MyFitnessPal – would push individuals’ to buckle up their password security efforts. But according to a recent report by security firm LastPass, password management has remained largely unchanged.

The global survey, which polled 2000 individuals across the UK, the US, France, Germany, and Australia, revealed that despite increased knowledge of security best practices, this does not translate into better efforts to heighten password security.

Despite 91 percent of total respondents knowing that using the same password for multiple accounts is a security risk, a whopping 59 percent of those surveyed revealed using the same passwords across multiple accounts.

If they know the security risks, why are respondents showing such poor password practices?

Fear is driving password reuse

When asked how often they used the same password, the majority of respondents replied “always” or “mostly”. It seems that the fear of forgetfulness was the number one explanation for 61 percent of respondents.

This was shortly followed by the desire of users wanting to be in control and know all of their passwords (50 percent).

Will worry spur users to take action?

The report revealed that the large majority of respondents are concerned about password security and their accounts being compromised. Of respondents, 92 percent feel that password security is a serious matter, and 88 percent feel that password hacking is a serious global threat.

Will security concerns push individuals to practice better password management? Source: Shutterstock

Yet, despite these concerns, a majority of respondents question the ability of secure passwords to protect them from cyber threats.

  • 90 percent believe that no matter how good a password, accounts are always at risk.
  • 87 percent feel other things outside of a week password could compromise their online security.

A global snapshot of password management by region

Germany leads the way in proactive security measures

  • 72 percent prefer secure over easy to remember passwords
  • 84 percent put a lot of thought into passwords they create

The US and Australia most likely to take action in the face of a breach

  • 60 percent update all personal passwords if an account is hacked
  • 43 percent add two-factor authentification to all accounts if an account is hacked.

France show most concern about password security risks

  • 90 percent believe password hacking is a serious threat.
  • 90 percent believe that other things outside of a weak password could compromise online security.

The UK is in security denial

  • 73 percent consider their passwords sufficient protection for online information.
  • 58 percent believe there is no way a hacker could guess their passwords from information shared on social media.