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Weak password problem persists, report finds

29 May 2018 - 13:56 by Mike Price

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A new study from Virginia Tech University, commissioned by Dashlane, has found that millions of people are still relying on incredibly weak passwords to protect their various digital accounts.

The Evening Standard reports that researchers scoured 61 million login details that were leaked after a cyber breach, drilling into the data to see which passwords were most common and whether users need to make improvements in their password choosing habits.

Using straight runs of numbers, such as 123456, is still commonplace. Other popular choices for passwords include football teams like Liverpool, bands like Nirvana and brands like Ferrari.

Experts warn that all of these regularly encountered passwords were innately weak because they can easily be guessed by hackers.

In most cases a password-based breach can be carried out using automated software which enters phrase after phrase into a system until the right one clicks. This can take a matter of seconds in the case that the password used is incredibly common.

Even sites which offer safe shopping online are vulnerable to this kind of attack, unless they insist that users meet minimum requirements for password strength.

Report spokesperson, Dr Gang Wang, said that the main reason most people picked a password which is similar to those chosen by others is that users tend to have a difficult time remembering a longer, more secure alternative.

He also said that one of the further issues with this is that people repeat the same password across multiple accounts, meaning that if one site is compromised, others could easily be attacked in the same way.

Consumers who want to shop online need to choose passwords which use random characters and symbols. They also need to select a different password for each site they use to stay secure.