Password security. It’s one of the single most important privacy concerns most of us should have today. And while two factor authentication and other security measures help keep most of our most sensitive accounts (banks, emails and so forth) a single password could be all it takes for people to access copious amounts of personal data on you.
So just how seriously are we taking our password security? We look at some key password statistics and figures to find out.
Password security statistics in a nutshell
Want the detail? Great. You’ll find it within. But if you just want the top level password statistics, here’s your bullet points:
- Only 21% of us use different passwords for every platform. The vast majority fail to do this
- 1 in 20 of us share our passwords with our spouses or partners
- There were 1 million searches per month in Google for “password manager” globally in March 2021, up from 301,000 in March 2021 and 165,000 in March 2019
- In March 2021, “how to hack instagram account” was searched 60,500 times
- According to Nordpress, over 2.5 million people use “123456,” as a password
How secure are our passwords?
We polled 1,000 people in the UK (using Google Surveys) in March 2021 to find out common mistakes we might be making when it comes to our passwords. Here are the findings.
Only 21% of us use different passwords for every platform
Repeat use of passwords across multiple platforms means that if one platform is compromised, then your other platforms are all at risk as well. Different passwords for each platform your use passwords for is the safest approach.
But only 21% of us use different passwords on every platform.
This is relatively consistent across men and women, according to our survey. And even when we dig into the different age groups, we don’t find too much variation, with one exception. Take a look:
|Age Group||% Who Use a Different Password for Every Platform|
|18 – 24||20.7|
|24 – 34||18|
|35 – 44||22.4|
|45 – 54||18.6|
|55 – 64||23.2|
The standout age group most likely to adapt the safer approach of diversifying passwords for every platform is the over 65s.
Other Password Survey Findings
- 5.1% of respondents in our survey said “my partner or spouse knows my passwords.”
This is more common amongst women than men, with 6% of women saying their partners know their passwords, falling to 4% for men.
- 4.4% admit to keeping a record of their passwords on paper
That’s a potentially dangerous game when it comes to password security. Simply losing your notebook or leaving it somewhere for a period of time could compromise your online security significantly.
- 4.1% use the name of a pet in passwords
Demand for password management software
For those of us (like me) who struggle to juggle multiple passwords, password managers have made this a lot easier in recent years. These tools handle the whole process of keeping on top of passwords for you. And demand is on the up.
We used kwfinder.com to assess demand both globally and in the UK for such tools.
- There were 1 million global searches for “password manager” in March 2021, up 301,000 in March 2020 and 165,000 in March 2019.
- In the UK alone, there were 74,000 searches in March 2021
|Global Searches/Month for “Password Manager”||UK Searches/Month for “Password Manager”|
We saw a sizeable jump in searches as many of us began working from home in March and April 2021 owing to the Covid 19 pandemic. So it seems a reasonable assumption that these increased searches could be driven, at least in part, by a need to ensure staff have remote access to systems and platforms used for their job from home.
It seems pertinent, after all, for businesses to look to improve password security at the best of times. But perhaps more so when, for the first time in many cases, employees are working remotely.
The search habits of would-be account hackers
Turns out we head to Google for answers on just about anything – including illegal activities.
It seems some beginner aspiring account hackers are heading to Google in the hope of finding tutorials to help them hack people’s accounts.
And the most in demand how-to is for Instagram.
Let’s take a look:
|Keyword||Searches March 2021 Globally|
|How to hack facebook account||135000|
|How to hack instagram account||60500|
|how to hack tiktok account||2900|
|how to hack whatsapp account||4400|
|how to hack twitter account||4400|
|how to hack youtube account||680|
|how to hack snapchat account||8100|
Fortunately, most of the major social platforms offer some sort of additional security layer now (do opt in). So even if our prospective hackers did manage to find a “social media account hacking for dummies,” guide on Google, they’d still have a hard time getting into your accounts.
How to keep your passwords and accounts secure
We get it. Managing hundreds of passwords is, frankly, tedious. But password managers make it easier. And a few hints to keep your accounts secure follow:
- Do keep separate passwords for every platform. Pretty please.
- Use secure traicky-to-guess passwords that use a variety of letter cases, numbers and special characters. You can use random password generators to create complex passwords for you
- Change your passwords if you have any reason to believe they have been compromised. So, for example, if you’re one of the 5% who shares passwords with a partner and that partner becomes an ex partner, now would be a great time to make some changes
- Change regularly anyway! It’s good practise to make changes to passwords on occasion
- Opt into 2 factor authentication and extra verification methods wherever they are available to you
Good luck 🙂