Security Market Segment LS
Thursday, 02 November 2017 10:05

Security implications of password use highlighted

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Passwords used in businesses turn out to be a leading cause of breaches, according to a report issued by password management services company LastPass.

The report on the use of passwords in 30,000 businesses that use the company's password management software found that while 91% of employees understood the downside of re-using passwords, 61% still did so.

The security implications of passwords was underlined by the simple statistic that a single stolen password could compromise an entire organisation.

Apart from the number of passwords that were used by individual employees, businesses now faced a new problem: many of the cloud apps used by workers were not controlled by the IT department.

"With no oversight of these apps, there is little protection against the exposure of sensitive corporate data, with an unknown quantity of touchpoints and security behaviours outside the control of the IT team," the report said.

The report estimated that the average organisation with 250 employees would have about 47,750 passwords in use. Each employee had to keep track of something like 191 passwords, though standard industry reports claimed something in the region of 27.

The disparity between these numbers was explained in the report by pointing out that people often under-estimated how many accounts they had, and asking:

  • "If you’re a marketer, how many advertising and analytics platforms are you using?
  • "If you’re a systems administrator, how many servers are you managing?
  • "If you’re a sales representative, how many demo accounts are you setting up?"

Given that most employees started out with about 20 passwords and doubled that number by the end of three months, the report said it not surprising that the same, or similar, passwords were used again and again.

It estimated that about 36 minutes was wasted each month by employees typing in passwords.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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