Young people pick terrible passwords compared to their elders

In most cases, the only thing protecting your important data on the web from an intruder is a single password. Even worse, most people use simple passwords like ‘password’ and ‘123456’ to protect their email and bank accounts.

Joseph Bonneau, a computer scientist at Cambridge University, was able to examine 70 million hashed passwords that Yahoo! provided him and concluded that password complexity increases as the age of the user increases.  While strength between ages 13-34 were roughly the same, there’s a noticeable increase in the 35-44 demographic and an even higher increase in the 45-54 and 55+ demographics.

Bonneau also analyzed password strength based on language preference and found that while most languages were roughly the same, users who selected German or Korean as their primary language had passwords that were significantly more complex than average. On the flipside, users who selected Indonesian as their language were significantly weaker. The author did not provide an explanation for the differences.

Another interesting tidbit from the research is that women tend to pick slightly more difficult passwords than men do.

One of the big concerns is the fact that users who store credit card information within the site have only marginally more secure passwords. This means that attackers could have easy access to stolen credit card information.

The study is an interesting analysis on password strength and we hope that it will remind users to not only create more difficult passwords to protect your private information but to also change your password on a somewhat regular basis.

Source: Cambridge University/Joseph Bonneau

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