55% of net users use the same password for most, if not all, websites. When will they learn?

55% of net users use the same password for most, if not all, websites

Dunce's hat. Image from ShutterstockA study by Ofcom, the UK communications watchdog, has unearthed some appalling statistics which reveal just how badly the general public treat password security.

According to Ofcom’s “Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2013” report, a poll of 1805 adults aged 16 and over discovered that 55% of them used the same password for most – if not all! – websites.

Why does this matter? Well, imagine you are a member of websites X, Y and Z – and you use the same password on each site. If X suffers from a data leak and their password database is accessed, or if hackers manage to work out your password for X, then the bad guys will not only have access to your X account, but Y and Z as well!

If that weren’t scary enough, just over a quarter (26%) said that tend to use easy-to-remember passwords such as birthdays or people’s names, opening the door for their online accounts to be hacked into by criminals.

It’s worrying that so many people are making life so easy for cybercriminals and identity thieves, when it’s actually remarkably simple to make strong password security a part of your everyday life.

In my experience, many people say that the reason they use the same password in multiple places, or choose passwords that are easy to guess or crack, is because they believe it’s too difficult to remember different passwords for different websites – especially if they’re being forced to use non-dictionary words or throw some funny characters into the mix.

And you know what, they’re right. It *is* too hard to remember lots of passwords – even if you use a system like the ones in the following video:

(Enjoy this video? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)

And that’s why the video also recommends using password management software – sometimes known as a password vault – like 1Password, KeePass and Lastpass.

Password management software can remember all your hard-to-crack passwords for you (they can even generate them to make sure they’re super complex), and store them securely behind one master password.

Just make sure that your master password is really strong and not one that you’ll forget (use the video above to help you create one).

Take care out on the net, and fix your passwords today!

Image of Man wearing dunce hat courtesy of Shutterstock.