Password theft reveals consumers' naivetyTheft of passwords reveals vulnerabilities

20 February 2009

Keep your PC safe with our essential security tips

The theft of around 28,000 passwords, apparently stolen from a well-known website and posted on the internet, reveals that a sizeable minority of computer users are seriously naive when it comes to setting their own passwords.

The analysis found that 14% of people were using sequential password combinations such as 1234, 123456789 and QWERTY. A further 16% used their first name as a password.

Adam Bosnian, VP Products and Strategy for Cyber-Ark, which carried out the research on behalf of Information Week, said: ‘With four per cent of users coming up with the impressively unimaginative “password” or a derivative as their password, this study confirms what we've know for some time, namely there is a lot of naivety when it comes to password security out there.'

He added that IT managers need to educate computer users in their organisations about the need for security, even to the extent of setting passwords for staff and then resetting them on a regular basis.

Our advice section shows you how to protect your identity online.

The fact that five per cent of the 28,000 stolen real-world passwords turned out to be the names of TV shows or popular singers, reveals how easy it is crack security systems.

'This survey suggests that more than a third of users could have their accounts totally compromised by hackers using a password library-assisted form of hacker attack that could be completed on most systems in a matter of hours,' Bosnian said.

Which? RSS news feed

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste into your newsreader. Find out more about RSS in the Which? guide to RSS news feeds.

Sign up to the Which? technology email

Keep your finger on the pulse of digital technology with the weekly email from the Which? Technology team

Every Tuesday we'll send you the latest news and reviews of MP3 players, mobile phones, cameras, high-definition TVs and other gadgets. 

Packed with the latest product launches, First Look reviews, expert advice and some incredible deals - can you afford not to be the first to find out?

Plus there are regular prize draws - we've already given away a 32GB iPod Touch.