Half of all Australians are caught in a kind of self-inflicted, infuriating password black hole, according to statistics which show how flippantly Aussies manage their online life.
One in two Aussies forget their passwords so frequently they must reset them twice a week, a study from global tech giant Cisco said.
The Cisco data underlined just how many people don’t appreciate the importance of passwords and the upheaval of being hacked, an Australian security expert said.
“I think it only becomes clear after something goes wrong,” Troy Hunt, whose HaveIBeenPwned site has become the go-to global platform for people to check if their usernames and passwords have been compromised, said.
“Now more than ever your digital life is your life.
“Step back and ask how much of your life is now digitised? It’s crazy.”
Mr Hunt said hackers can wreak massive damage on someone’s finances and reputation once they crack a password, particularly an email account.
From social media to online shopping to banking and emails, most Australians will have dozens, if not hundreds, of accounts which require usernames and passwords.
Mr Hunt said it’s not humanly possible to create unique, strong usernames for each and then retain that information in your brain.
A password manager, which creates random, extremely hard to crack passwords, is the best online tool for people to manage this modern day dilemma, he said.
Many password managers are free, some are paid subscriptions.
Mr Hunt predicted more than 90 per cent of people probably use one password for every online account they manage.
“This is why account takeover attacks can have such serious consequences,” he said.
Robert De Nicolo, Cisco’s director of cybersecurity for Australia, said 81 per cent of breaches typically involve weak or stolen credentials from passwords.
He said too many Aussies were password “complacent” and had slipped into “cybersecurity fatigue”.
“Every person in Australia can be a victim of an attack or a breach,” he said.
Other frequently used passwords included “password”, “lizottes”, “abc123” and “password1”.
Tips to create a strong password
Never use short passwords. The bigger variety of characters, the longer it will take a hacker to guess it.
Never reuse your passwords. Even if a password is leaked, other accounts with different passwords will still be protected.
Make your passwords complex. Use upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, special characters, and numbers to create strong passwords.
Use long passphrases. Using dictionary words is not advisable. Instead, create a combination of six to seven random words. A combination like “left elephant shoes purple rugby vacation” is difficult to guess because of its length and randomness, but it is easier to remember.
Use the mnemonics technique. Create memorable phrases using the mnemonics technique. For example, create a sentence like “I love to eat pizza with friends for fun!” and use it as a mnemonic to create a password “1L2epwf4F!”
Use a password manager. Password managers help people generate and store passwords.