Just how bad is our password security knowledge?

World Password Day was on May 1st, 2018, and the goal of the holiday was to bring awareness to password hacking, and its ugly repercussions.

Identity theft is one of the world’s fastest-growing crimes, but it’s preventable.

By taking small steps like creating stronger passwords and adding two-step authentication, you can help protect yourself from becoming one of the 12 million, annual victims of password hacking. Whether you’re protecting your bank account, your email, or your social media, password security matters.

Still, not everyone knows what it takes to keep a password truly secure.

Pop culture vs password security – where are our priorities? 

Pop culture trumps our knowledge of password security – especially when it comes to Kanye West. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

As a way to celebrate World Password Day, the website HighSpeedInternet.com conducted a survey to understand how well Americans understand password security.

In a playful way, the organization compared password security to pop culture trivia to see how each was understood.  On average, survey respondents answered 52.13% of pop culture questions correctly but only 29.5% of the password security questions correctly.

In one example, over 80% of survey participants correctly guessed Kim Kardashian’s husband, but only 15% of participants knew that increasing the length of your password can make it stronger.

In another question, 75% of survey participants knew who performed during the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show, but only 22% could identify the stronger password from two choices.

These results are a bit alarming.  

It’s time to act

Even if a pop culture versus password security quiz seems silly, don’t take the results too lightly.  

For every moment we ignore the importance of password security, a hacker is working their way closer toward your most sensitive personal information. And hackers are more active than you may realize. In 2017, Google investigators found that hackers swipe nearly 250,000 passwords every week.

What can you do to take action, and protect yourself?

Go back to the basics

We can’t reiterate the importance of password security enough.

As a rule of thumb:

  • The longer your password the harder it will be to crack
  • Passwords become more complex when combining factors like:
    • Special characters
    • Lowercase
    • Uppercase letters
    • Words not found in the dictionary

Additionally, remember to avoid reusing the same password for multiple accounts.

By making your passwords more complex, and unique, you make it harder for a hacker to attack via brute-force methods.

As another layer of protection, try adding a multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-step authentication. This extra protection acts as a shield if a hacker were able to guess your password. The second level of security means the hacker would also need to know personal identifying information like where you went to elementary school, your first pet’s name, etc.

If coming up with a password is difficult for you, there are programs to help. EZPD, for example. creates passwords up to 96 characters long, with a mixture of numbers, symbols, and case-sensitive letters, to ensure maximum strength. EZPD also regenerates your passwords each time you need to enter them, so you don’t have to worry about storing or remembering complex passwords.

Don’t be a statistic, improve your password strength today.