“A large number of passwords can be guessed if personal information is known to the attacker. This is especially true if they know passwords from other accounts owned by the potential victim” says Wang. Here is a link to his study.
This is especially true for two reasons, he went on to explain. One, there are large amounts of personally identifiable information easily accessible to cybercriminals. This is personal information that in one way or another has become public.
Two, cybercriminals get access to millions of leaked passwords, courtesy of data breaches past and present.
If past passwords are still used on multiple accounts, the individual is just asking for trouble.
“Our results should encourage people to vary the passwords they use on different websites much more substantially. This will make it harder for criminals to guess their passwords,” said Dr. Jeff Yan. In addition, unique passwords (and usernames) should be reinvented often.
“This work should also help inform internet service providers looking to introduce more robust security measures to detect and resist online guessing.” One approach that is highly recommended is for the use of passphrases. Unlike passwords, these tend to be more complex and longer, yet just as memorable. Another option is to type pure gibberish, then right it down and use it, being sure to keep the password stored safely in an online or offline vault.
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