Your Employees May be Trying to Guess Your Password

A study on passwords has shown that a startling number of people have tried to guess the passwords of bosses and friends.

The password platform, Beyond Identity, has released a report about password usage. The company surveyed over 1,000 Americans in order to get a sense of their password habits, and found that many people had tried to guess their boss’s, co-worker’s, and even loved one’s password.

It also found that people’s passwords were quite generic across the board, with one in ten respondents believing that their password could be reasonably guessed by someone who had looked through their social media accounts.

In order to stay safe online, it’s a good idea to take various safety measures. These include varying and complicating your passwords, and installing a password manager, which can help you securely retain and organise your online accounts.

Highlights of the Password Report

The password-focused report tells us a lot about password creation, as well as who might be trying to hack into your accounts. Somewhat worryingly, one in three of the survey takers admitted to trying to guess someone else’s password, with 73.3% of them succeeding in their efforts.

Unsurprisingly, the most frequent victim of a password-guessing was a romantic partner, with just over half the respondents claiming that they’d tried to access a partner’s log in. The most surprising results were those focused around the workplace, with close to 20% of respondents saying that they’d tried to guess the password of either a co-worker or even their own boss.

We don’t know how specifically successful these attempts were, but it’s possible that they didn’t have much luck, as people said that the two most secure accounts they had were their online banking, and their work-related accounts, with only 16% of work accounts reporting to have been breached.

Most Common Password Mistakes

With this many people trying to figure out your password, you should do your best to create strong passwords that are next to impossible to guess. According to the study, there were very consistent themes throughout the passwords of the survey sample size.

Common Passwords

Infographic sourced from Beyond Identity

All the usual suspects are there. Spouse names, pet names, birthdays and random characters replacing letters (ex. Super Mario becomes 5uper M4r10) are all very common ways of cooking up a password, but these all make your passwords very easy to crack. These methods also lead to passwords that are quite short. A password like “hunter2” just isn’t long enough.

The best way to make a password is to make it truly random. Don’t associate any of the words within with your personal life, just pick a few words, maybe add a number or a special character, and call it a day. Not only will it be hard to predict, a chunk of three words is easy enough to remember, and should be long enough to stop auto-hackers from breaking in. It’s best visualised in this comic:

Password Strength

Cartoon from xkcd

It’s also a good idea to vary your passwords between your various accounts, like having your Netflix password be something like AcornPyramidPassport12, while your Instagram password is JokerRailroad41Mousepad. This means that if there’s ever a data breach within the website, or someone does somehow manage to get ahold of one password, they won’t be able to access every single internet account you have.

Read the Guide to Creating a Strong Password

Protecting Your Passwords

Creating good passwords is a solid step towards security, but it’s only one step of many. One of the main things anyone can do to secure their passwords is using a password manager.

Since two of the best things to do to keep your passwords secure is use different passwords for every different website/account, and make these passwords longer and trickier to guess, a password manager can help you store these various, longer passwords in a secure location, and you’ll only need to remember one master password to access them all.

To find the best password manager on the market, check out the best password managers of 2021, all of which can help you secure and protect your passwords.

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Written by:
Duncan (BA in English Textual Studies and Game Design) is an Australian-born senior writer for Tech.Co. His articles focus on website builders, and business software that allows small businesses to improve their efficiency or reach, with an emphasis on digital marketing or accounting. He has written for Website Builder Expert and MarTech Series, and has been featured in Forbes. In his free time, Duncan loves to deconstruct video games, which means that his loved ones are keenly concerned about the amount of time he spends looking at screens.
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