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Bad password habits cost businesses £130,000 a year

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The average employee wastes £261 a year in company time on trying to manage multiple passwords, which for a company with 500 staff is a loss of more than £130,000 a year.

“In our new digital lifestyles, which see a blurring of the lines between personal and professional lives, we are constantly having to juggle multiple passwords for everything from email and mobile apps to online shopping and social media,” says Barry Scott, EMEA chief technology officer for Centrify. “Over a quarter of us now enter a password online more than ten times a day, which could mean 3,500 to 4,000 times a year. This is becoming a real challenge for employers who need to manage security and privacy concerns and for employees who are costing their companies time and money.”

Yet while 47 per cent use their personal mobile devices for business purposes, one in three admit they do not actually use passwords on these devices even though they keep office email, confidential documents, customer contact information and budget information on them.

High on many people’s list of ‘most annoying things’, passwords it seems are becoming the cause of major headaches today. The research reveals that forgetting a password for an online account is more annoying than misplacing your keys according to 39 per cent, a mobile phone battery dying (37 per cent) or getting spam email (31 per cent). One in six (16 per cent) would rather sit next to someone talking loudly on their mobile phone, 13 per cent would rather spend an hour on a customer service line, and 12 per cent would prefer to sit next to a crying baby on a flight than have to manage all of their passwords.

With nearly half (42 per cent) of respondents creating at least one new account profile every week – more than 50 a year – the problem with password management will get worse. In fact, 14 per cent believe they will have 100+ passwords to deal with in the next five years. Despite this, it is believed that many already seriously underestimate the number of account profiles they have online, with nearly half (47 per cent) believing they have just five profiles – although a quarter admit they have 21 or more.

Top five bad password practices

When asked what they do in order to remember their passwords, survey respondents said they:

  1. Always use the same password whenever possible;
  2. Rotate through a variety of similar passwords;
  3. Keep a written password in a master book of passwords;
  4. Use personal information in a password; and
  5. Avoid using complicated symbols or combining upper and lower case.

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