Coming up with a unique and memorable password for a new online account is one of the most difficult (and, oftentimes, stressful) elements of creating a profile on the web. On one hand, you want your password to be memorable, so you don’t have to constantly reset your chosen phrase, but on the other hand it has to be unique and different enough that a stranger won’t be able to guess it and hack into your account.
While some of us keep careful logs of all of our unique passwords hidden in a safe location, the overwhelming majority of us take the easy way out and simply reuse the same password ad-nauseum, because it’s the most convenient way to log into all of our many accounts.
Many of you might be thinking poor password safety is isolated to so-called “Digital Immigrants”, i.e. those who grew up without having access to computers from birth. But recent studies have shown millennials can be just as guilty of this sin – and in many cases, more prone to irresponsible activity – as anyone else.
In one study from Norton quoted by The Daily Dot, about 42 percent of Baby Boomers worldwide always use secure passwords online, with only 15 percent admitting to sharing passwords with others. In comparison, 31 percent of millennials have admitted to sharing passwords, making them much more likely to be the victim of cybercrimes.
In another study by Dashlane, 60 percent of millennials admitted to sharing passwords at work, compared to 40 percent of older generations who admitted doing the same. Dashlane also reported that 45 percent of millennials said they could use an old password to access a former employer’s systems. A quarter of millennials admitted to storing their passwords on Post-It notes and other scraps of paper where passerby could easily view them.
Like many people of my generation, I, too, am guilty of reusing a small handful of passwords for all of my accounts. I know its bad, yet it is much easier to hope that a breach doesn’t occur than to actively change each of the 20-plus accounts that my name is connected to.
The divide between cybersecurity awareness and actively working to prevent attacks is an issue that isn’t going to solve itself. If we really want to protect our identities and our assets online, we need to work hard to reduce the chances of a breach happening to ourselves or someone we know. It might not be possible to create an environment where cybercrime is an impossibility, but by being smarter and more savvy web users, we can drastically reduce the chances of becoming a victim.
The Millennial Report is a weekly column by associate editor Michael Cusanelli, who graduated from Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism in 2013. He is an avid gamer and movie buff who spends nearly as much time concocting the perfect mix tape as he does writing. You can find him on Twitter @MCusanelliSB.