Bad passwords happen to good people

Posted

Passwords (for now) are a necessary evil of the digital age and are a part of our everyday lives at work and at home. Lucky for us, no two sites approach password creation the same way, and remembering every single one for the numerous accounts we have is a breeze, right? Kidding aside, many websites and services leave the onus on us to make our passwords “more secure” instead of actually imposing strict strength requirements. Plus, we have to find an effective method or choose a tool to help us remember all of them.

Though I’d like to give most people the benefit of the doubt, their behavior makes it quite clear that most value productivity over security when it comes to passwords. In fact, according to a recent study, 65% of individuals use the same password everywhere, and 47% report a productivity drain at work due to password management.

So what’s the big deal? We see password leaks in the news every day, along with stolen user account, credit card or confidential information going along with it. Most people continue to ignore the problem, assuming the worst can't happen to them.

Quite recently, I heard my sister talking about her Ancestry.com account. I asked her if she could share the account with me, and with her busy schedule, I never heard back! I grew increasingly impatient, and headed to the Ancestry.com website. I knew she had an account, and her e-mail address, so took a guess from there.

One guess, I was in.

Her password was one that she as used, and re-used, for years. It was the very same password she used for her AOL account in 1996. So not just a few years, about 20 years; she had a password almost two-decades old. The very same password she was using when we had a dial-up modem, at a time when we were kicked offline by a phone call...on a landline.

It’s pretty clear my sister has some pretty bad password habits, but what about you? Take our new password quiz to find out how good you are at protecting your passwords and personal information. If you need to bulk up, check out these 4 quick and easy steps to set yourself on a path to strong, secure passwords.