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Despite Increases in Hackings, Americans Aren’t Changing Their Passwords

calendarMay 6, 2021

43% of Americans do not change their passwords immediately after a site they use is breached

More people are working and learning online than ever before, opening the door for breaches, scams and ransomware attacks. Despite this increase in risk, Americans appear to have grown comfortably numb to protecting themselves online with nearly half (43%) of Americans saying they do not change their passwords immediately when a site they frequent often is breached.

A 2021 Password Security Study of over 1,000 American adults from NordVPN found that over half (52%) of Americans log in to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram daily followed by daily logins on:

  • 50% – Computing devices
  • 32% – Streaming platforms (Hulu, Prime, Netflix, etc)
  • 26% – Retail Sites (Amazon, Target, Rakuten, etc)
  • 26% – Financial/banking sites (MINT, Acorn, Credit Karma, etc)
  • 20% – Gaming platforms (Xbox, Playstation, Stream, etc)
  • 14% – Health sites (healthcare, dental)

Despite daily logins across our social media and computing devices, only about half of Americans (57%) change their passwords immediately after a site they frequent has a data breach, followed by 25% who change their passwords within a week or two, 10% within a few months, and 8% who never do. When it comes to sites Americans rarely visit, less than half (43%) change their passwords immediately after a data breach followed by 33% within a week or two, 14% within a few months, and 10% who never do.

However, when it came to financial institutions, Americans were less forgiving with 45% of Americans reporting they would stop using a finance or banking site if it had a breach that affected their credentials.

“Massive data breaches regularly expose passwords, emails, and other personal information and as more are working from home than ever before, we have seen a sharp increase in these attacks,” stated Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “However, your data is only as secure as your password for many sites and if users aren’t taking precautions, it only increases the risk of your data being exposed.”

For most people, having assurance their passwords are secure isn’t as important as it should be with only 17.3% of Americans saying they’d give up social media entirely to ensure they were fully secure (unhackable) online along with other vices such as:

  • 15.2% – Alcohol
  • 12.5% – Marijuana
  • 11.7% – Video games
  • 8.4% – The Internet
  • 7.8% – Movies and TV shows
  • 7.6% – Snacks
  • 7% – Sex

Tips for Securing Your Passwords:

  • Avoid short passwords. Use passwords that contain at least 10 characters. The more characters the password has, the longer it takes for a hacker to crack it.
  • Make them complex. Password strength can be achieved by including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Use password managers. You can use a powerful password manager like NordPass to help you organize your various login details.
  • Create mnemonics. If tools for managing passwords are not your thing, create memorable phrases instead.
  • Use passphrases (the Diceware method). While using dictionary words is not advisable, creating a combination of 6-7 random words, characters, and numbers is a good method to protect your account.
  • Use a password generator. Try the NordPass random password generator to improve your password strength and create strong yet unique passwords. With this tool, you can create passwords ranging from 8 to 60 characters and use filters to add or avoid certain characters. Then, just copy your password straight to your NordPass password manager.

About Propeller Insights

Propeller Insights is a full-service market research firm based in Los Angeles, using quantitative and qualitative methodologies to measure and analyze marketplace and consumer opinions. Propeller conducted its national online survey for NordVPN of 1,007 U.S. adults between January 2-6, 2021. Survey responses were nationally representative of the U.S. population for age, gender, region and ethnicity. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

About NordVPN

NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. For more information: nordvpn.com.