December 7, 2022

Easy as 1-2-3? The worst password mishaps revealed


Man using a computer keyboard. Image by Tim Sandle.

Many people, it seems, are bad at choosing passwords and keeping their accounts secure. This is borne out in a survey compiled by the company Uswitch.com the study delves into what people’s password picking habits are and has offered tips on how to create better passwords.

The survey focuses on the U.K. population, although the results gathered are mostly likely global given the types of issues uncovered. Uswitch conducted a survey between 12th April 2022 and 14th April 2022 asking 2,006 men and women across the UK about their password habits

Examples of bad practices are captured in the recent survey revealing that a quarter (25 percent) of people in the U.K. write their passwords down on paper. This can also put people at risk of forgetting their passwords if they lose the piece of paper that they keep them on.

There is also an issue with passwords that are easy to crack for nearly 1 in 3 people (30 percent) of people are inclined to include their birth year in their password, with more than a third (39 percent) incorporating their pet’s name.

This highlights the importance of keeping this type of information secure and safe, and avoiding anything that asks for these details to be shared, including quizzes on social media. The most secure way is to avoid any personal identifying information in passwords all together as this could be the first thing hackers try.

There are some other poor practices. For instance, nearly a fifth (19 percent) of men use the word ‘password’ in their password and, overall, more than 1 in 4 (26 percent) do not change their passwords regularly and almost half (48 percent) of people use the same password across multiple platforms.

Avoiding obvious terms such as ‘password’, ‘12345’, ‘qwerty’ and ‘11111’ can help passwords become more secure and less guessable.

It is unsurprising that many people are vulnerable and proportion have fallen foul to cyberattacks. Over a fifth (22 percent) of people have had their passwords hacked with those living in London and Northern Ireland being the most vulnerable to hacking than any other region.

Not every person is consistent with the above trends and some behave far worse. For example, looking at work roles, those who work in occupations like Human Resources are most likely to forget their password, with this profession having to reset their passwords at least every two months. Those working in IT & Telecoms came second, with 51 percent of people in that industry resetting their password at least twice a month.