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Password security - Statistics & Facts

In one form or another, passwords have existed for centuries, making them one of the oldest security and authentication methods. Allegedly, passwords were first introduced in the computing environment in the early 1960s by Fernando Corbato, while working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Subsequently, this led to the idea of encrypting passwords, developed in the 70s by Robert Morris. His method, named hashing, was based on translating passwords into numbers using one-way encryption. Almost half a century later, his method is still used in Unix-like operating systems.
Despite the vulnerability that password security currently has in the face of the increasing number of cyber breaches and the variety of cyber-attack techniques, it remained the most used security method by companies worldwide in 2021. Moreover, by 2026, the password management market will exceed three billion U.S. dollars.

The password is dead, long live the password!

Several authentication methods – like biometrics, multi-factor authentication (MFA), or hardware security keys - are becoming more popular among users and have proven increased security standards compared to passwords. Nevertheless, most users continue to prefer the classic store-it-in-your-memory password for their online accounts.
What made passwords the best available option for security in a world where much of our confidential/sensitive data is available online? Although they can be predictable, and thus quickly hacked, passwords are flexible and easy to use. Users are constantly encouraged to use special characters to create stronger passwords and regularly change them for increased security. Most people created stronger passwords for their financial accounts, than their social media accounts. Unfortunately, optimism bias causes people to believe that they are less likely to be victims of a cyber-attack, and so, many consumers worldwide re-use the same credentials when creating a new online account.

One password manager to rule them all

Passwords are here to stay, despite intense competition with more secure authentication methods, which aim to shape a passwordless future. People have started using password managers in an attempt to maximize security through password authentication or simply because they keep forgetting their passwords. When using a password manager, the most important risk is that all the sensitive login information is stored in one place, making a potential data breach have irretrievable consequences. However, many users are currently happy with how their system works and do not want to pay for password protection in 2022. However, Apple-device users are more likely to have a password manager installed on their iPad or Mac laptop than Windows laptop users.
Passwords continue to play an essential role in personal and corporate authentication security and might never become actual relics of the past as cassette tapes and floppy disks did. Password managers do not just store and generate complex passwords, but they are currently designed to support several MFA, such as one-time passwords (OTP), SMS codes, or secondary emails.

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