If there’s anything we repeat constantly at PCMag, it’southward the need for everyone to take cybersecurity seriously. And while that is arguably on the upswing, a big swath of the populace is ignoring best practices—especially when it comes to passwords.
The numbers above from our recent survey of 1,041 adults age 18 or older in the US say information technology all. A full lxx% of the respondents admitted they use the same password for more than 1 thing—sometimes (25%), near of the time (24%), or
all of the time
(21%). If you don’t know why that’s bad, read on: When someone gets your password for just one service, they have your password for everything. Since nearly online accounts assign your e-mail address as a username, it doesn’t take Mr. Robot to crack that lawmaking.
How would a cyber-cheat get your passwords, you wonder? Thirty-six percent of our respondents said they physically write down passwords, and 24% keep them in notes stored electronically. Both of these methods make stealing passwords also easy—witnessed out of the corner of some criminal’s eye, for the love of Snowden.
Of form, you can’t beat memorizing. About half of those surveyed said that’s their preference. It’due south the most secure method of all, unless you’re afraid of having the info tortured out of y’all, Bond-manner. In that instance, we highly recommend you use a password manager. Sadly, only ane-third of respondents said they apply a password manager—a software program that will store and even create strong passwords for yous. But nosotros’ll go on to trumpet their use until that number goes upwards. (The numbers above don’t add together up to 100%, since people apply a mix-and-match arroyo to tracking passwords.)
Another reason to utilize password managers is they get in very easy to alter passwords into something stronger. The majority of people said they modify passwords every four to six months. Our estimate is that anyone saying they practise this even once a year has had it forced upon them rather than done it by pick. The 26% claiming they don’t regularly change passwords are likely existence the most honest.
Microsoft is moving people away from passwords entirely. This strategy may grab on with other services, but it’southward non necessarily an improvement, since it’due south only removing the starting time factor of authentication (the password) in favor of the second (an dominance lawmaking). That means if someone steals your telephone, they can get access fifty-fifty more easily to your Microsoft account (assuming they have the Pivot for your telephone). Only that’s a whole different article.
We asked the respondents not only about their passwords but also most their victimhood—as in, how many had been a victim of a cybercrime. While 46% said they’d never been a victim, the other 54% said they had. The breakdown of cybercrimes: credit card fraud, 27%; malware, 18%; ID theft; 17%; phishing attacks, 16%; and ransomware, ix%. Did a bad password pave the way for all these crimes? No more than leaving your doors unlocked means you’ll exist burgled, just why tempt fate?
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Finally, we asked about what protection people use when online. It was a relief to see that 53% use antivirus software, even though Windows has it
congenital into the operating organization.
The number should exist much higher—unless everyone taking the survey happens to be on Macs or iPhones only. Chances are that the bulk of respondents are probably using antivirus without even realizing it.
VPNs and privacy-focused browsers/modes make a good showing, though. Hopefully, stats like those in a higher place will drive a few more than people to make more security-conscious tech decisions. For more, read How to Get Google to Quit Tracking Your Location and How to Prevent Web Tracking on Your Favorite Browser.
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