What about password security for users in Germany? A study reveals the latest developments and shows that the majority of users are still far too reckless when it comes to choosing a password.
“123456” or “qwertz”: Even if you don’t make the mistake of using such a password, you can still do a lot wrong when it comes to password security. The email provider WEB.DE asked adult Internet users in Germany about their habits in May 2021, and found out: Some of the users are far too reckless. We have summarized the most important findings of the study on password security below.
A third use up to 20 online services with password protection
One development that is very likely also due to the corona pandemic is the increased use of various online services. While 24 percent of those surveyed are registered with fewer than ten services with password protection, a full 33 percent use up to 20 online services. That is almost twice as many as last year.
A full 61 percent use the same password for multiple services
But the increased number of services used does not seem to encourage users to also increase the number of their passwords. Because 61 percent of users use one and the same password either for several (55 percent), or even for all (six percent) of their accounts. So there is no noteworthy change compared to the previous year, in which 60 percent of the respondents provided this information.
Every fifth person affected by password theft – data leaks as a wake-up call
Carelessness in choosing a password has consequences: one in five states that they have already been the victim of a password theft. At the latest after hearing about hacks or data leaks in the media, the majority of users are shaken up. 53 percent stated that they would change their password with the affected service after such a report. For some, this step does not go far enough: a quarter of the respondents also change their passwords for other, unaffected services after a leak.
After all, half say that they have become significantly or somewhat more cautious in choosing and using passwords since 2019. It is hardly surprising that the banking and payment sectors in particular encourage more caution: 88 percent pay particular attention to password security in online banking, 71 percent also in online payment systems.
Single sign-on services (SSO) and two-factor authentication are becoming more popular
Single sign-on services (SSO) – for example with Google or Apple – which centrally regulate the logins for several pages are becoming more popular. A third of the respondents said they were registered with an SSO. In particular, the centralized data protection settings as well as the ease of use contribute to the popularity. For 39 percent, however, those services are more trustworthy if they are based in Europe rather than in the USA or China, for example. And the use of two-factor authentication (2FA) for services other than online banking has also increased to a full 49 percent. Jan Oetjen, Managing Director of WEB.DE, emphasizes the usefulness of both processes:
In order to effectively protect your own online accounts, you should definitely create a strong, unique password for each service and, if possible, activate two-factor authentication. If a website offers a central registration process, you should rely on a trustworthy single sign-on provider.
Passwords are becoming more secure
The good news from the study on password security is that the passwords used have become somewhat more secure even compared to the previous year. The number of users who use special characters, upper and lower case, letters and numbers is now over 80 percent. A quarter of respondents said their passwords were “fantasy words”, and only one percent used simple sequences of numbers – compared to seven percent in the previous year.
The study on password security shows that users in Germany are using more secure passwords than they did a year ago, and that processes such as SOO and 2FA are also becoming increasingly popular. But there is still a lot of catching up to do, especially when it comes to the number of passwords used. Users should therefore regularly ask themselves whether their password security is sufficient. Because if you are careless, you have to reckon with consequences: That’s what happened the password “123456” has already been hacked over 23 million times.