Study: Nearly Third of People Still Writing Down Passwords

Using methods like sticky notes could make you three times more vulnerable to attacks, according to new research.

Even though cases of identity theft are at an all-time high, almost three-quarters of Americans rely on handwritten notes or their own memory to remember passwords, according to new research.

Aside from relying on manual methods to remember codes, the report also revealed that re-using the same passwords is another leading reason why users have been experiencing breaches.

As the threat landscape intensifies, jotting down simple passwords on sticky notes is no longer a sufficient way to protect your accounts. So, if you're serious about beating the odds, read on to discover some simple ways to level up your password security.

Only One-Fifth of Americans Use a Password Manager

Despite the increasing efficiency of password managers, tools that generate, manage and store passwords for users, 79% of Americans are still reluctant to pick them up, according to a recent survey by security.org.

How American's keep track of online passwords

How Americans are keeping track of passwords. Source: security.org

The survey, which collected insights from over 1,000 Americans, revealed that instead of using the tool, a quarter of respondents remember passwords by logging them on a digital device, 32% of them jot them down on a piece of paper, and a staggering 41% just rely on memory.

ID Theft is on the Up, Especially for Certain Users

For many of us, keeping a digital or physical copy of a password has become habitual. But whether you keep all your confidential codes on a sticky note or in a notes doc on your phone, failing to adopt modern solutions could drastically increase your chances of being breached.

This has been showcased in security.org's research, which found that web users that bypass password managers are three times more likely to encounter identity theft than those who use them correctly.

And aside from relying on paper copies and your own, often unreliable memory, re-using passwords is another major prerequisite for victims of cyber fraud, with 50% of identity theft victims failing to regularly come up with unique passcodes — a 15% increase from 2021.

How to Keep Your Accounts Safe

Fortunately, it's not all doom and gloom. Despite the increasing sophistication and guile of cyber criminals, keeping them out of your account is actually fairly straightforward.

According to security.org, the simple and most effective way to block out these threats is by creating and regularly changing a strong password. Drawing on the National Insitute of Standards and Technology's guidelines, they explain that a strong password should adhere to these four rules:

  • Contain 12 characters or more
  • Don't be repeated for other accounts
  • Be divorced from personal meaning
  • Be regularly updated

By following these four simple principles, and using a password manager to log codes across your platforms, your chances of encountering a breach will drop significantly.

But which password manager should users opt for? As high inflation rates tighten purse strings across the US, free password managers like Google Password Manager and iCloud Keychain, unsurprisingly, continue to be the most commonly used solutions.

However, due to the safety and privacy concerns associated with free methods, Tech.co's suggests that businesses are much better off going for quality options like LastPass and 1Password. Learn more about the best password managers on the market.

Written by:

Isobel is a writer at Tech.co with over three years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology Bsc at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.

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