A Study Of 70 Million Passwords Reveals That People Really Suck At Making Them

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A worldwide study of 70 million Yahoo passwords, the largest of its kind, reveals that we really need to make better passwords.Don’t worry, Cambridge University academic Joseph Bonneau was not able to see your actual passwords, but analysed hashings of users across all ethnicities, geographic region and age, according to Sean Ludwig of VentureBeat. 

“Even seemingly distant language communities choose the same weak passwords and an attacker never gains more than a factor of 2 efficiency gain by switching from the globally optimal dictionary to a population-specific lists,” Bonneau wrote in his study.

Text passwords have been around since the 1960s, so it seems surprising that there has been such a slow progression in the evolution of stronger codes.

Efforts by Yahoo to have users improve their passwords haven’t worked either, Bonneau found.

“Even proactive efforts to nudge users towards better password choices with graphical feedback make little difference,” he said in the study. “This may indicate an underlying problem with passwords that users aren’t willing or able to manage how difficult their passwords are to guess.”

Bonneau also noted that passwords which protect the most sensitive information, such as a credit card account, does not generally improve the quality of user passwords. This must make hackers incredibly happy.

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