Password security is still an issue despite the rise of cybersecurity education

Although nearly two-thirds of respondents say they have some form of cybersecurity education, 62% said they almost always use the same password or a variation of it. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Cybersecurity education does not equate to better password health and can lead to a false sense of password security, according to an extension released this week.

In the fifth annual Psychology of Passwords survey, LastPass found that although 65% of 3,750 respondents had some form of cybersecurity education, 62% almost always or usually use the same or a variation of the password.

“The findings highlighted a clear disconnect between high levels of confidence when it comes to their password management and their secure actions,” the firm said in a news release. “As many professionals have discovered that they trust their current password management, this doesn’t translate to safer online behavior and can create a false sense of security at the expense of it.”

Growing up in the digital age has not improved the odds for members of Gen Z or the millennial generation. In fact, they were the biggest offenders of the poor health ticket, with 69% of Gen Z respondents using a variation of one ticket, and millennials following closely behind at 66%.

While nearly 9 in 10 respondents (89%) know that using the same password or a variation is a risk, only 12% said they use different passwords for different accounts and 62% said they always or usually use the same password or some variation.

And although 65% of respondents had some form of cybersecurity education, less than a third (31%) stopped resetting passwords and only a quarter started using a password manager.

And different types of online behavior elicit different responses. Most respondents (69%) said they would create a larger password for financial accounts, and 52% would use a complex password for emails. However, the percentage of respondents fell below 50% for the following reasons:

  • Medical and health records (35%)
  • Work related reasons (33%)
  • Social media (32%)
  • Retail / shopping (18%)
  • Entertainment accounts such as Netflix (14%)
  • I like / create a password in the same way regardless of the type of account (13%)
  • Travel / airline (8%)

“Our latest research shows that even in the face of a pandemic, where we spend more time online amid rising cyberattacks, there continues to be a disconnect for people when it comes to protecting their digital lives,” said Christofer Hoff, head of secure technology for LastPass. “The reality is that although nearly two-thirds of respondents have some form of cybersecurity education, it is not put into practice for a variety of reasons. For both consumers and businesses, password manager is a simple step to keep your accounts safe and secure.”

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