Are you the confident type with a tidy desk who hates to miss a deadline? Or a laid-back creative sort with a propensity for daydreaming?
Either way you’re no more or less likely to exhibit poor password behaviour, however, personality type does affect how bad security habits are excused.
That’s according to a – not peer-reviewed or particularly scientific – study by LastPass which found that Type A and Type B personalities (generally considered to be outgoing, in-control and detail orientated versus relaxed, nonchalant and flexible respectively) differed in the way they rationalised their shoddy password routines.
The 2,000 participants in Australia, the US, UK, Germany, France and New Zealand answered a series of questions to determine their personality type.
Of those in the Type A group, 35 per cent said they reused passwords because they wanted to remember all of their passwords and 49 per cent said they had a personal system for doing so. In the Type B group meanwhile 45 per cent had poor passwords because they believed their accounts weren’t of any value to hackers and 43 per cent said an easy to remember password was better than a secure one.
“Bad password behaviour in Type A personalities stems from their need to be in control. Even though they reuse passwords, they don't believe they are personally at risk because of their own organised system and proactive efforts,” the report said. “Type B personalities rationalise their bad behaviour by convincing themselves that their accounts are of little value to hackers. This enables them to maintain their casual, laid-back attitude toward password security.”
In Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), the survey found 93 per cent of respondents said that there was an inherent risk associated with reusing passwords, yet 61 per cent continue to use the same or similar passwords regardless.
When creating passwords, 40 per cent of ANZ respondents include family names or initials. Another 36 per cent use significant dates or numbers and 21 per cent use the name of the family pet – all information that is easily obtainable through social media sites or a casual acquaintance, LastPass said.
Respondents in the region were also found to prioritise password strength based on which accounts they believe need to be the most secure. Respondents indicated that they create the strongest passwords for banking (69 per cent), followed by retail (35 per cent), social media (25 per cent) and entertainment (15 per cent).
If passwords are being reused across accounts, cybercriminals who hack a lower-prioritised account can easily gain access to something that is more critical, like a savings or credit card account, the company added.
“Developing poor password habits is a universal problem affecting users of any age, gender or personality type,” said Joe Siegrist, vice president of LastPass. “Most users admit to understanding the risks but continue to repeat the behaviour despite knowing they’re leaving sensitive information vulnerable to potential hackers.
“In order to establish more effective defences, we need to better understand why individuals act a certain way online and a system that makes it easier for the average user to better manage their password behaviour.”
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