Weak Passwords Put Businesses at Risk: Study

Dennis Faas's picture

A new study conducted by Trustwave, an IT research firm, is providing a startling look at the security vulnerabilities and hacking trends within computer systems used in the business world.

For example, the Global Security Report for 2012 shows that the most popular computer password selected by business users is "Password1".

Of the 2.5 million passwords Trustwave studied in total, about 5 per cent contained the word "password." (Source: slashgear.com)

According to Trustwave, "Password1" is so popular because "it satisfies the default Microsoft Active Directory complexity setting," which requires eight characters, at least one capitalized letter and at least one numerical digit. 

"Password" the Lowest-Common-Denominator Among Passwords

Many experts consider "Password1" to be among the lowest common denominators of passwords, and suggest it can hardly be expected to keep hackers at arm's length.

Many found it surprising that business computer users, supposedly more sophisticated and with more to lose than most individual users, willingly settle for a minimal password that barely qualifies as acceptable.

The Trustwave report also notes that workers in business environments are finding other ways to skirt their company's IT protocol for passwords.

For example, where more than one number is required, employees too often select numbers in progressive order, such as: "12345". This makes a password easy to remember, but also far easier to hack.

Some experts suggest workers turn to such passwords when IT management requires passwords to be altered frequently. Since it's far more difficult to remember a complex password, employees tend to simplify.

Report Reveals 2011 Security (and Hacking) Trends

But "Password1" is just one of a number of business security vulnerabilities revealed by Trustwave's new report, including some troubling security trends within the business environment.

For example, antivirus programs appear to be struggling to keep up with emerging malware threats. According to the report, such software detected only 12 per cent of malware samples collected and tested last year.

Customer records, the Trustwave report found, remain by far the most sought-after target for hackers. Such data make up approximately 89 per cent of all security-compromised information.

Finally, the security report revealed that franchise businesses are the most likely to be targeted by cyber crooks, and that companies in the food and beverage industry are targeted more frequently than all others. (Source: pcmag.com)

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