Despite cybersecurity experts’ repeated warnings, the insurance sector, along with other industries, is not doing a great job when it comes to creating secure passwords, says new research by password manager NordPass. Though employees are repeatedly warned to take better care of corporate accounts, passwords such as “password” and “123456” still score high on the insurance industry’s list.
Below are the 10 most used passwords in the insurance sector:
- company’s email domain.com*
- company name’s abbreviation123*
- company name745*
- part of the company’s name*
- company’s email domain.com*
- company name*
*This password is directly referencing a company. NordPass is not naming the exact business. It notes the format in which this password was used, for example, the abbreviation of the company’s name, part of the name, or the name combined with other words or symbols.
Although the password management company reviews changes in Internet users’ password habits year-round, this year, the company specifically investigated passwords that employees of the world’s biggest companies from 31 countries use to secure business accounts. The researchers compiled 20 industry-specific password lists.
“On one hand, it is a paradox that the wealthiest companies on the planet with financial resources to invest in cybersecurity fall into the poor password trap. On the other hand, it is only natural because Internet users have deep-rooted, unhealthy password habits. This research once again proves that we should all speed up in transitioning to alternative online authentication solutions,” said Jonas Karklys, CEO of NordPass.
“Ashley” and Other Questionable Passwords
The passwords “password” and “123456,” which shared the top two spots in last year’s list of the world’s most common passwords, are also popular among the largest companies’ employees, the study found. Across all 20 analyzed industries, both of these passwords were found to be among the seven most commonly used passwords. The word “password” was the No. 1 most trending pick among the insurance sector’s employees, and “123456” ranked second.
Insurance company personnel were also found to use names for their passwords, with “aaron431” and “ashley” among the most popular picks. Other industries were also creative, the report found. The password “dummies” ranks sixth among consumer goods sector employees, “sexy4sho” is 16th among real estate employees, and “snowman” is 11th in the energy field.
Common Inspiration for Passwords
Just like with regular Internet users, dictionary words, names of people and countries, and simple combinations of numbers, letters and symbols make up most passwords presented in the research. However, the remaining 32 percent indicate another interesting trend. The world’s wealthiest companies’ employees love passwords that directly reference or hint at the name of a specific company. The full company name, the company’s email domain, part of the company’s name, an abbreviation of the company name, and the company product or subsidiary name are common sources of inspiration.
“These types of passwords are both poor and dangerous to use. When breaking into company accounts, hackers try all the password combinations referencing a company because they are aware of how common they are. Employees often avoid creating complicated passwords, especially for shared accounts. Therefore, they end up choosing something as basic as the company’s name,” Karklys said.
Wide Representation of Countries and Industries
The analysis of the world’s wealthiest companies’ passwords was conducted in partnership with independent third-party researchers specializing in research on cybersecurity incidents. They looked into the world’s 500 largest companies by their market capitalization, which represented 31 countries and 20 industries.
The United States (46.2 percent), China (9.6 percent), Japan (5.8 percent), India (4.2 percent), the United Kingdom (4 percent), France (3.8 percent) and Canada (3.6 percent) are the countries most represented in this research. Also, most of the companies analyzed fell under the finance, technology and IT, and health care sectors.
The study complements a series of password-related research projects the password manager has delivered throughout the years. In 2021, the company looked into the passwords that Fortune 500 companies use, and in 2022, investigated the password habits of top-level business executives. It also presents the “Top 200 most common passwords” study annually, which broadly covers the password trends of internet users.
“While password trends slightly vary each year across different audiences, the general take is that people continuously fail with their password management, and the world desperately needs to switch to new online authentication solutions such as passkeys,” said Karklys.
Various progressive businesses such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, PayPal, KAYAK and eBay already have adopted passkey technology and are offering their users password-less login.
Tips for Securing Business Accounts
According to an IBM report, in 2022, stolen or compromised credentials remained the most common cause of a data breach in companies, accounting for 19 percent. Karklys said that by implementing a few cybersecurity measures, businesses could avoid many cybersecurity incidents.
- Ensure company passwords are strong. They should consist of random combinations of at least 20 upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.
- Enable multi-factor authentication or single sign-on. While the MFA set up on another device, connected with email or SMS codes guarantees an additional layer of security, single sign-on functionality helps reduce the number of passwords people have to manage.
- Critically evaluate whom to grant account credentials. Access privileges should be removed from people leaving the company and passed on only to those who are in need of certain access.
- Deploy a password manager. With a business solution, companies can safely store all their passwords in one place, share them within the organization, ensure their strength, and effectively manage access privileges.
The poor passwords list was compiled in partnership with a third-party company specializing in cybersecurity incident research. Researchers analyzed data that affected the world’s 500 largest companies by their market capitalization. The analyzed data was categorized into 20 different industries. The researchers looked into the top 20 passwords used in each industry.