As technologically savvy as consumers are today, many of us remain painfully uninformed about proper password use and management. The importance of creating secure and effective passwords shouldn’t be ignored—especially considering that 80% of hacking-related breaches are caused by stolen and reused credentials.
Weak passwords and poor password management habits are regularly exploited by cybercriminals and hackers around the world, and these bad habits increase our vulnerability to consequences like data loss, identity theft, and financial losses. Take a look at some shocking password statistics tied to poor password hygiene:
- 4 in 10 of Americans have had their personal data compromised online.
- Of the 40% of Americans who have had their personal data compromised online, 47% lost money as a result.
- Only 45% of Americans say they would change their password after being hacked.
- The total cost of a data breach in America was $8.64 million in 2020.
- 80% of hacking-related data breaches are linked to passwords.
- Brute-force hacking tools are sold on criminal marketplaces for just $4 on average.
- There has been a 24% increase in the number of data breaches caused by malicious attacks since 2014.
- 16% of malicious data breaches in 2020 were caused by a vulnerability in third-party software.
- 53% of malicious data breaches were financially motivated in 2020.
- 14% of malicious data breaches in 2020 were caused by phishing.
These statistics clearly illustrate the costly ramifications of failing to take password best practices seriously. With cybercrime on the rise and cybercriminals becoming more sophisticated in their methods of attack, now is a critical time to reevaluate how much effort we’re putting into protecting ourselves and our personal information online. Here’s a closer look at some data on the prevalence of poor password habits:
- 24% of Americans have used the word “password,” “Qwerty” or “123456” as their password.
- 43% of Americans have shared their password with someone.
- Only 37% of Americans used two-factor authentication to secure their passwords in 2020.
- 66% of Americans use the same password across multiple online accounts.
- Only 34% of Americans say they change their passwords regularly.
- While 79% of Americans said keeping their security software up to date is very important, 33% don’t update theirs regularly.
- 27% of Americans have tried to guess someone else’s password, and 17% of them were able to guess correctly.
- 42% of organizations rely on sticky notes for password management.
- 59% of organizations rely on human memory to manage passwords
- 62% of organizations say they don’t take the necessary steps in properly securing mobile data.
These statistics reveal that as much as the way we use technology has evolved, our password security practices have hardly changed. To become truly resilient against data theft and compromised credentials online, a shift in behavior and practice is necessary.
Luckily, improving our cybersecurity habits doesn’t have to be complicated. A commitment to maintaining the just the basics of proper password management can have the biggest impact on avoiding some of the most common attacks deployed by hackers on the web. To increase the safety of your data and reduce the likelihood of a data breach, implement these simple best practices:
- Use a combination of numbers, letters, punctuation and capitalization when creating a password.
- Choose a password that is at least 12 characters long.
- Include random, unrelated words in your password.
- Don’t use phrases from popular songs, movies or TV shows in your passwords.
- Never reuse your passwords across different accounts or devices, no matter how strong it may be.
- Never include personal information in your passwords.
- Don’t rely on your memory to keep track of your passwords. Use a password manager instead.
As troubling as these statistics may be, consider it an opportunity to assess where your own password habits have fallen short and take the time to correct them. The threat of cybercriminals is unfortunately here to stay, and as long as our world of technology continues to advance, so too will the sophistication of modern cybercrime. By implementing some simple password hygiene habits, you can rest easy knowing you’re doing your part in keeping your data protected online. For a visual guide to better password habits, check out the infographic below.
Please include attribution to Panda Security with this graphic.