Password psychology: People aren’t protecting themselves even though they know better

People aren’t protecting themselves from cybersecurity risks even though they know they should, a study on password psychology by LogMeIn reveals.

password psychology

Password psychology

Year after year there is heightened global awareness of hacking and data breaches, yet consumer password behaviors remain largely unchanged. Data from the survey shows that 91 percent of people know that using the same password on multiple accounts is a security risk, yet 66 percent continue to use the same password anyway.

With people spending more time online, the evolution of cybersecurity threats and the unchanged behavior in creating and managing passwords creates a new level of concern around online security.

The global survey polled 3,250 individuals across the United States, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Brazil, and the United Kingdom and provides evidence that increased knowledge of security best practices doesn’t necessarily translate into better password management.

Global cyber threats continue to skyrocket but password behaviors unchanged

Password behaviors remain largely unchanged from the same study conducted two years ago — translating to some risky behaviors. 53 percent report not changing passwords in the past 12 months despite a breach in the news.

And while 91 percent know that using the same password for multiple accounts is a security risk, 66 percent mostly or always use the same password. This is up 8 percent from our findings in 2018.

Security-conscious thinking doesn’t translate to action

The data showed several contradictions, with respondents saying one thing and in turn, doing another. 77 percent say they feel informed on password best practices, yet 54 percent still try to memorize passwords and 27 percent write them down somewhere.

Similarly, 80 percent are concerned with having their passwords compromised, and yet 48 percent never change their password if not required.

Fear of forgetfulness, number one reason for password reuse

Most respondents (66 percent) use the same password for multiple accounts, which surprisingly has gone up 8 percent from our 2018 findings. Why? The fear of forgetting login information continues to be the number one reason for password reuse (60 percent), followed by wanting to know and be in control of all of their passwords (52 percent).

password psychology

Awareness and usage of MFA increasing

The good news is there is broad awareness and usage of multifactor authentication (MFA). Fortunately, 54 percent say they use MFA for their personal accounts and 37 percent are using it at work. Only 19 percent of survey respondents said they did not know what MFA was.

Respondents are also very comfortable with biometric authentication – using your fingerprint or face to login to devices or accounts. 65% said they trust fingerprint or facial recognition more than traditional text passwords.

“During a time where much of the world is working from home due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and people are spending more time online, the cyber threats facing consumers are at an all-time high. Individuals seem to be numb to the threats that weak passwords pose and continue to exhibit behaviors that put their information at risk,” said John Bennett, SVP & GM of Identity and Access Management at LogMeIn.

“Taking just a few simple steps to improve how you manage passwords can lead to increased safety for your online accounts, whether personal or professional. Make World Password Day 2020 the tipping point for a change in your password behavior.”

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Password psychology: People aren’t protecting themselves even though they know better