User’s password dilemma revealed – “Weak and Memorable” vs “So Secure I Forgot it”

- Adrian Ungureanu

Today we log into online accounts all the time – from transferring money between bank accounts, to simply ordering some shopping, checking the weather, or booking a taxi on a night out, the guys at Kaspersky Lab says. And we agree to that.

But what if suddenly we can’t log into the account we need, when we need it? What if we get the dreaded ‘password error’ message? Do we end up not being able to get home in time, or going out without a coat in the rain? With the reality sometimes being much more serious than that, Kaspersky Lab research has revealed the dilemma people face when protecting their online accounts.

With our increasing dependency on online accounts to get us through our day-to-day lives, Kaspersky Lab has found that people are increasingly facing a dilemma – how to choose their passwords. Some end up using strong and different passwords for every single account so that nothing can be hacked or exploited, but risk forgetting their passwords in the process. Others choose memorable passwords that make their lives easier, but also play right into cybercriminal hands.

Answering the dilemma option one – strong passwords that are hard to remember
According to research from the cybersecurity company, many consumers understand the need for strong passwords on their accounts. When asked which three of their online accounts required the strongest passwords, 63% of consumers selected online banking accounts, 42% selected payment applications including e-wallets, and 41% online shopping.

However, the difficulty of remembering all these strong passwords means people are likely to forget them and still get locked out of their accounts. Two-in-five (38%) people cannot quickly restore passwords to their personal online accounts after losing them. This may lead to feelings of frustration or stress if they can’t carry on their normal activities as a result.

When it comes to password storage, half (51%) store passwords insecurely, with a quarter (23%) writing them in a notepad so that they don’t have to remember them, which also puts their security at risk.

Answering the dilemma option two – weak passwords that are easy to crack
As an alternative answer to the password dilemma, and to avoid the frustration of having to remember long passwords, some people are developing other insecure password habits instead. For example, 10% use just one password for all accounts, allowing them to live their online lives seamlessly, without ever struggling to remember how to login to anything. That’s until a cybercriminal gets hold of that one key password and unlocks everything for themselves, of course.

Indeed, 17% of the consumers surveyed by Kaspersky Lab have faced the threat of, or have successfully had, an online account hacked in the past 12 months. Emails are the most targeted accounts (41%), closely followed by social media (37%), banking accounts (18%) and shopping accounts (18%).

Answering the dilemma – there is a third option after all
According to Kaspersky Lab, consumers don’t have to be limited to just two options in answering their password dilemmas. There is in fact no need for them to compromise, as Andrei Mochola, Head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab explains: “Remembering secure passwords is difficult, meaning users face a password dilemma every day – and often either forget strong passwords or end up creating passwords that are easy to remember but also easy to hack. However, there is a third option which can bring consumers peace of mind – using a password manager solution allows people to have strong passwords, without having to write them down in notepads or remember complicated strings of words with special characters”.

Kaspersky recommends users to try password manager apps, like the Kaspersky Password Manager that can stores all of a user’s passwords in a secure vault. They only need to remember one master password in order to access all of their accounts, taking away the panic felt when access is prevented for whatever reason. The automatic password generator feature also helps create strong passwords, taking away the pain for users but giving hackers a big headache.