Uswitch.com conducted a consumer survey to find out how the UK chooses their passwords, how safe they are and how often they have been hacked.
Writing passwords down on paper can compromise safety and security if anyone takes it or keeps a copy. It can also put people at risk of forgetting their passwords if they lose the piece of paper that they keep them on. With 25.3% of people in the UK writing their passwords down, Uswitch advises using a password manager with authentication instead, to keep everything secure and safe.
The survey further highlights that 30% of people use their birth year and 39% use a pets name as part of their password. This highlights the importance of keeping this type of information secure and safe, and avoiding anything that asks for these details to be shared, including quizzes on social media. The most secure way is to avoid any personal identifying information in passwords all together as this could be the first thing hackers try.
Although it may seem too obvious, using the word ‘password’ when setting a secure password is now done far more often, with over 1 in 10 people admitting they have done this. Avoiding obvious terms such as ‘password’, ‘12345’, ‘qwerty’ and ‘11111’ can help passwords become more secure and less guessable.
Furthermore, changing passwords regularly can also help to avoid being hacked. Despite this, 26% of people don’t change their passwords regularly, making them more vulnerable to hackers. To further secure passwords, using a different one for each log in can also deter hackers. There are tools to help remember and manage this, such as authentication apps and password managers which can help securely store log-ins.
With the UK becoming a hotspot for scamming and hacking over the last few years, it’s no surprise that 22% of people have had their data compromised. Those living in Greater London (30%) and Northern Ireland (30%) have experienced the most hacking, with almost 1 in 3 saying this has happened to them.
Out of the professions, those working in HR have to reset their passwords the most, with 59% of people resetting their passwords at least every two months. Those working in IT & Telecoms came second, with 51% of people in that industry resetting their password at least twice a month.
Safety and security tips around passwords to help keep accounts secure
- Spell out a memorable phrase using a mix of numbers, symbols, and acronyms: Example: T3rRy550c1alMed!Ac1234 (Terrys Social Media Account)
- You can do the above to customise for each site.
- Use your keyboard as a canvas to draw or write something memorable to you.
- Use a password manager if you think you won’t remember them.
- Make it as long as you can and use lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols in every password.
- Don’t write your password down. Not on paper, not in an email, not anywhere!
- Don’t reuse passwords across accounts.
- Avoid using loved ones’ names.
- Avoid using memorable keyboard paths. Example: 123456, qwerty.
- Don’t tell anyone your password.
Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch.com says: “It’s apparent that people are still making simple mistakes when it comes to choosing a password, whether it’s including personal information or including simple, out of date combinations for logins.
“As most of our lives are stored online, it’s never been more important to ensure that our private data is protected, and having a strong password is the first line of defence against hackers.
“Many people struggle to remember their log-ins and often revert to using the same one on repeat, which tends to lead to poor password strength. Using two-step authentication or password managers can be a good way to ensure your data is secure from hackers, without having to share or write down your information.”