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We all know reusing passwords is dangerous, but most of us do it anyway

(Image credit: Shutterstock / vladwel)

The majority of web users are failing to heed warnings about the dangers of reusing passwords across multiple online accounts, despite widespread awareness of the issue.

According to a new poll from LastPass by password manager developer LogMeIn in aid of World Password Day 2020, 91% of users recognise the heightened risk of hacking and data breaches attached to reusing passwords, yet the majority (66%) continue to do so regardless.

This cognitive dissonance also extends to the need to update passwords on a regular basis. Four in five confessed concern about account compromise, but almost half (48%) never change passwords unless required.

Password security

Despite the rapid acceleration of digitisation across most disciplines in the past decade, attitudes to  password management appear to have been left in the comparative dark ages.

The report also found that, while 77% consider themselves well informed on password best practices, over half (54%) still attempt to memorise passwords and over a quarter (27%) still write them down on a paper.

According to LogMeIn, password malpractice could prove particularly perilous at the present moment, with remote working reaching new heights as a result of widespread lockdown measures.

“During a time where much of the world is working from home due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and people are spending more time online, the cyber threats facing consumers are at an all-time high,” said John Bennett, SVP & GM of Identity and Access Management at LogMeIn.

“Individuals seem to be numb to the threats that weak passwords pose and continue to exhibit behaviours that put their information at risk.”

However, on the bright side, there is a broad awareness of the merits of multi-factor authentication (MFA), with over half (53%) using it to add an additional layer of protection to personal accounts and 37% using it in a professional capacity..

Users are also broadly comfortable with using biometric authentication to log in to devices and accounts, with 65% placing greater trust in fingerprint access and facial recognition than in traditional text-based passwords.

“Taking just a few simple steps to improve how you manage passwords can lead to increased safety for your online accounts, whether personal or professional. Make World Password Day 2020 the tipping point for a change in your password behaviour, “ added Bennett.