A dizzying number of the world’s CEOs and business owners are using ridiculously weak and dangerously simple passwords, according to a new cybersecurity report.
New research by NordPass, a password manager, and independent researchers has revealed that passwords such as “123456,” “12345,” “password,” “123456789,” and “qwerty” are among the most hacked passwords used by CEOs.
The most hacked password used by CEOs, managers, business owners, and other high-ranking executives — “123456” — was found to be involved in over 1.1 million cybersecurity breaches worldwide. Another popular choice — “password” — was found in over 700,000 instances.
The research also suggested that high-ranking business executives often use names as their passwords, the most popular of which are: Tiffany (used in 100,534 breaches), Charlie (33,699), Michael (10,647), and Jordan (10,472).
Mythical creatures and animals were also a common theme, with "dragon" (11,926) and "monkey" (11,675) also proving popular passwords among high-ranking executives who’ve been hacked.
To reach these findings, the researchers analyzed over 290 million cybersecurity data breaches worldwide. The passwords were categorized based on job level, such as C-suite executives (such as CMOs, CROs, CTOs, CFOs), business owners, and managers.
Many of the observations were similar to wider trends picked up by previous research by NordPass that looked at the password choices of everyday internet users. For instance, a few years ago it was revealed that “dragon” was a surprisingly popular password around the world and frequently used in privacy breaches.
Data breaches are not always the result of sophisticated snooping techniques. In fact, around 80 percent of data breaches can be blamed on easy-to-crack passwords, according to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Many other breaches are linked or directly caused by human error, such as clicking a sketchy link.
Jonas Karklys, the CEO of NordPass (who presumably has a very strong password), said the findings of the latest report highlight how all of us can take some very simple action that will dramatically reduce our chances of being hacked.
Mainly, employ a password manager that can store passwords in end-to-end encrypted digital storage, introduce cyber security training in the workplace, and enable multi-factor authentication as an extra layer of security, whether it's separate apps, security keys, devices, or biometric data.
“It is unbelievable how similar we all think, and this research simply confirms that — what we might consider being very original, in fact, can place us in the list of most common,” Karklys said in a statement sent to IFLScience.
“Everyone from gamer teenagers to company owners are targets of cybercrimes, and the only difference is that business entities, as a rule, pay a higher price for their unawareness.”