Password amnesia and online identity

The use of multiple passwords is posing a security risk to individuals and businesses alike, according to Ping Identity.

A new study, which surveyed 2,000 consumers, highlighted that 50 per cent are required to remember at least four different passwords on a daily basis, with 21.6 per cent needing to remember over eight different passwords.

Complex password policies dictated by businesses and online retailers have further added to the growing challenge of remembering how to access online information and manage daily tasks. 53.5 per cent of consumers are required to change their passwords on a regular basis, and over 60% have to restrict themselves to specific number and letter combinations that are easily forgotten.

Worse still, in an effort to reduce the amount of complex passwords needed to be remembered, consumers re-use them across multiple sites.

Remembering such ever-changing complex passwords is proving a problem for consumers, who are resorting to worrying actions in order to gain access to their information. 61% admitted to physically writing down their passwords and a third of people (34%) have shared their corporate password with others.

Respondents said that the password easiest to remember is their Facebook log-in (34.5%) ahead of their work log-in (25%), a favorite online retailer account (10.6%) or their online bank (12.2%). Facebook also was the account most “protected’ by consumers, with 80 per cent not willing to share their log-in details with others.

“The more passwords we’re forced to remember, the more we’re likely to forget, or write down in an effort to ensure we always have access to the accounts that matter,” said John Fontana, Identity Evangelist at Ping Identity. “Not only does this leave individuals open to fraudulent activity and exposes the businesses they work for, but it also highlights the value we place on different passwords.”

“Everyone wants to reduce the number of times you have to use a password, but this research shows we are more comfortable and protective of our Facebook password than anything else,” Fontana continued. “Businesses wanting to attract and retain custom will need to allow consumers access to their sites though online identities we trust, rather than repeatedly getting us to enter our information again and again creating yet another unmemorable password.”

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