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Threat Intelligence

10/28/2020
02:35 PM
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6 Ways Passwords Fail Basic Security Tests

New data shows humans still struggle with password creation and management.
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Humans are good at some things, like eating too many potato chips or getting annoying songs stuck in their heads. They're not so good at choosing edible wild mushrooms by appearance, for example, nor are they good at choosing strong, safe passwords. Unfortunately, that last item has some serious repercussions in the cybersecurity world.

Security.org's new report on password strategies in the US serves as a painful reminder of just how humans fail at the basic task of choosing (and using) a strong password. Many, if not most, of the issues around passwords can likely be laid at the feet of a pair of human traits: We're fallible, and we're stubborn. Put them together and you have a recipe for a system that we can't use well and are reluctant to change.

One of the ways that humans demonstrate their problems with passwords is in the continuing reluctance to use a password management program. Experts have long said that password managers are key to making computer and network credentials more secure, yet Security.org's research shows that only 12% of users have a password manager as part of their secure authentication routine. Instead they turn to methods only slightly more reliable and secure than teaching passwords to a nearby parrot: 37% depend on their own memory for password storage while 20% go OG with paper notebooks.

Given the high-tech password retrieval systems in use, it's perhaps no wonder that many users choose passwords that are lack sufficient security heft. Based on current research, there are six ways in which users blow the basic task of creating a secure passwords. Or to put it less judgmentally, six ways in which passwords fail to measure up.

How many of these "failures" do your passwords exhibit? Or are you one of the few who use technology to help create and manage strong passwords? We've seen the security.org research -- we'd like to know what you and your organization are doing about passwords. Let us know in the comments section.

(Image: mangpor2004 VIA Adobe Stock)

 

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
 

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semitad
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semitad,
User Rank: Strategist
10/28/2020 | 4:58:59 PM
Password managers can be hacked
I understand the need to manage passwords in some way, but as with all security, the more convenient something is, the less secure it is. With the breach at LastPass not long ago, many are reluctant to put all their eggs in a basket in the cloud. Writing passwords in a notebook is scoffed at, but a paper notebook can't be hacked over the internet. I always tell people to use what works for them. Some people love online password managers, others love writing them down, and still others just have a great memory. Everyone is different and should use what works best for them. 
TravisEcc
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TravisEcc,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/29/2020 | 6:27:45 PM
Re: Password managers can be hacked
Yes they can but the better ones do encryption on the device.
Also some level of protection is better than none.
Considering most users have 3-5 Social media accounts, at least 1 bank account, at least one email, not to mention government services, mobile logins, work logins, online shopping, insurance accounts, home computer that makes 11 at a minimum.
Statistics show most users have 1 password protecting 5+ accounts.
A password manager, implemented properly, with MFA is better than reuse or simple passwords relied on by memory.
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