Understanding Password Choices: How Frequently Entered Passwords Are Re-used across Websites

Rick Wash, Emilee J. Rader, Ruthie Berman, Zac Wellmer
2016 Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security  
From email to online banking, passwords are an essential component of modern internet use. Yet, users do not always have good password security practices, leaving their accounts vulnerable to attack. We conducted a study which combines self-report survey responses with measures of actual online behavior gathered from 134 participants over the course of six weeks. We find that people do tend to re-use each password on 1.7-3.4 different websites, they reuse passwords that are more complex, and
more » ... tly they tend to re-use passwords that they have to enter frequently. We also investigated whether self-report measures are accurate indicators of actual behavior, finding that though people understand password security, their self-reported intentions have only a weak correlation with reality. These findings suggest that users manage the challenge of having many passwords by choosing a complex password on a website where they have to enter it frequently in order to memorize that password, and then re-using that strong password across other websites.
dblp:conf/soups/WashRBW16 fatcat:aay6nik6t5a4zemori5s57sexm