Passwords are a crucial — albeit mundane — part of daily life, especially for those with a sizable online footprint.
But even though these tiny pieces of data protect everything from our banking details to our most sensitive information, a new survey finds that many consumers would rather do almost anything else than maintain good password hygiene.
In fact, identity verification and authentication company Onfido revealed that 17% of consumers would rather watch paint dry or file their taxes than create a unique password for every account they have online — a number that could easily hit 100 for the average person.
Consumers fall behind in maintaining good password habits
Surveys have shown that some consumer habits have improved during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those revolving around saving and budgeting. However, Onfido found those that involve password creation and management still need some work.
The company found that half of its survey participants either reuse one password (17%) or rotate a handful of them (33%) across all of their online accounts. Meanwhile, another 1 in 5 respondents keep a core password that they adjust to meet a brand's password strength requirements, such as password length or special characters.
The Onfido survey also shed light on consumer concerns when creating a new password. For instance, their top priorities include:
- Creating a password that is hard to crack (29%)
- Meeting the requirements of the services they are interacting with (25%)
- Creating a simple password they won't forget (18%)
- Matching the new password to their other ones (11%)
Although password security is still a top priority for almost 3 in 10 consumers, the passwords they do create may not be as invulnerable as they think. In fact, the survey results show that many respondents draw their inspiration from:
- Birthdays (22%)
- Pet names (19%)
- Family names (19%)
- Hobbies (14%)
- Time of the year, like seasons, months or years (12%)
- Their mother's maiden name (10%)
- Sports teams, street names, addresses or phone numbers (10%)
And with another survey finding a link between those who share their personal information online and those who are targeted for scams, maintaining good password habits can be one way to keep your most sensitive information protected from hackers and scammers.
Traditional passwords may be on their way out, replaced with biometric authentication
Onfido's survey also assessed consumer sentiments on password security across industries, by asking respondents to rate the importance of a complex and secure password versus a simple and memorable one for different services.
It found that users saw password complexity and security as a greater priority for services that were more likely to store sensitive personal, financial or otherwise important information, including:
- Banking (57%)
- Home security applications (48%)
- Crypto exchanges (47%)
- Software and services used for work (38%)
- Online health services (35%)
- Gambling or betting (35%)
On the other hand, less than 3 in 10 saw password security and complexity as a priority for travel applications (28%), online education services (25%) and gaming platforms (24%).
Of course, with the rapid advancements in technology, traditional passwords may soon become a relic of the past. Almost 6 in 10 (58%) respondents believe that passwords will go extinct within nine years, while 41% give it an even shorter expiration date — five years or less.
Instead, the majority of Onfido respondents (58%) stated they would replace traditional passwords with biometric alternatives like fingerprint or facial recognition on all their accounts if companies offered it. Thanks to their ease of use and reliance on unique human features, biometric authentication methods may very well be the way of the future.
Methodology: Research for Onfido's survey was conducted by Censuswide on April 20-23, 2021 among 4,047 consumers ages 16 and up in the U.S., UK, France and Germany. The survey data was gathered from a random sample of adults who have online or mobile accounts.