A significant fraction of Americans are using COVID-related passwords online. This was the finding of a study by Security.org, a team of security experts, advisors, and researchers. The researchers asked 750 Americans to share their password strategies and security habits.
Using COVID in Your Online Passwords
In its annual report on password “strategies” in the US, the study found that topical issues are a dominant feature of passwords. Unsurprisingly, with COVID the prevailing topic, coronavirus-related passwords are being used by as many as 14% of Americans.
Another key topic is, of course, the US election. Subsequently, 12% of Americans are using the word “Trump” in passwords. 9% are incorporating “Biden” into their passwords.
Personal data has long been a key favorite when it comes to creating passwords. The report shows that 16% of Americans use their birth year in passwords. Another 16% use their pets’ name.
Security.org’s report was released to coincide with Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Its finding that so many people are opting for topical passwords is deemed as “bad news” by Security.org.
Best Password Practices
The security experts recommend having long, strong passwords, which mix numbers, letters, and special characters. They advise using two-factor authentication whenever it is available. Two-factor authentication might involve a code being texted to the user’s phone, or a fingerprint or facial recognition sign-in.
If a website has had a data breach, it is important users change their password immediately. The same password should not be used across sites.
Small Businesses and Cybersecurity
Small businesses are a target for data hacks and other cybercrime. With 28% of data breaches in 2020 involving small businesses, it’s more important than ever that small businesses get their passwords right.
Common sense prevails that avoiding popular words based on current issues likes COVID will ensure safer, more secure passwords. It is also vital that businesses follow other recommended password practices. Such practices include not using the same passwords across multiple sites and using two-factor authentication whenever possible.