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News

Password analysis study reveals extent of vulnerability

Imperva : 22 January, 2010  (Technical Article)
Computer users are often making themselves susceptible to attack through the use of trivial or easy-to-crack passwords according to a recent study and analysis from Imperva
Imperva has announced the release of a study analyzing 32 million passwords recently exposed in the Rockyou.com breach. Imperva's Application Defense Center (ADC) analyzed the strength of the passwords in a report, Consumer Password Worst Practices, that analyzes 32 million passwords to help consumers and website administrators identify the most commonly used passwords they should avoid when using social networking or e-commerce sites.

The report identifies the most commonly used passwords:

1. 123456
2. 12345
3. 123456789
4. Password
5. iloveyou
6. princess
7. rockyou
8. 1234567
9. 12345678
10. abc123

"Everyone needs to understand what the combination of poor passwords means in today's world of automated cyber attacks: with only minimal effort, a hacker can gain access to one new account every second—or 1000 accounts every 17 minutes," explained Imperva's CTO Amichai Shulman. "The data provides a unique glimpse into the way that users select passwords and an opportunity to evaluate the true strength of passwords as a security mechanism. Never before has there been such a high volume of real-world passwords to examine."

Some key findings of the study include:

* The shortness and simplicity of passwords means many users select credentials that will make them susceptible to basic forms of cyber attacks known as "brute force attacks."
* Nearly 50% of users used names, slang words, dictionary words or trivial passwords (consecutive digits, adjacent keyboard keys, and so on). The most common password is "123456".
* Recommendations for users and administrators for choosing strong passwords.

For enterprises, password insecurity can have serious consequences. "Employees using the same passwords on Facebook that they use in the workplace bring the possibility of compromising enterprise systems with insecure passwords, especially if they are using easy to crack passwords like '123456'," said Shulman.

"The problem has changed very little over the past 20 years," explained Shulman, referring to a 1990 Unix password study that showed a password selection pattern similar to what consumers select today. "It's time for everyone to take password security seriously; it's an important first step in data security.
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