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Security

Men use 'password' as their password far more than women

Commentary: A new study shows that password habits don't appear to have become more secure, despite recent hacks.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Image of an male hand with Password written on

A male hand, you notice.

Jonathan Knowles / Getty Images

We try.

But it's so hard keeping up with password management. 

There are so many shopping sites and apps. We want so many things. We only have so much time and patience.

So surveys regularly show that password habits can be dire. Just look at the most common passwords of 2016 and you'll see that "123456" still reigns. Though "123456789" isn't too far behind.

What, though, might be people's worst password habits? A new survey by tech consultancy EPC Group offers a little window.

More than 37 percent of the 600 people surveyed last month admitted that they change their password only when a site tells them to.

Eleven percent of those polled said they've used to same password (or a variation of it) for at least seven years. 

I'm a touch surprised that this number is so low. Perhaps people are beginning to take notice. Perhaps news of hacks and cyberattacks are getting some to pay attention.

Perhaps some have even read CNET's fine guide to password management and why it's important.

Still, wandering through the data in this survey, I can't help marveling at humanity.

Men, for example, are 2.8 times more likely to use the word "password" as their password. Women showed a slightly different tendency. They are 1.3 times more likely to use their lover's name in their password.

I leave psychologists, professional and amateur, to ponder on the relative beauty of these two habits.

Let's hear it, though, for 22 percent of these respondents. They confessed that they use the very same password for every site they log into. 

What about the 44 percent who admitted they frequently use the same password? 

Indeed, only a blessed 14 percent crowed that they create a different password for every site. 

Technology has invaded our brains and incited us to all sorts of actions that encourage an abdication of thought. 

We seek constant rewards and need them to be as instant as possible. 

And we hope for the best. Because that strategy generally works for us, right?