Data Security specialist Imperva released a study analyzing 32 million passwords recently exposed in the Rockyou.com breach.
In December 2009, a major vulnerability was discovered in Rockyou.com. By examining a hacker's blog, a major vulnerability was discovered that led to the breach of 32 million passwords and the hacker posted to the Internet the full list of the 32 million passwords (with no other identifiable information).
Imperva's Application Defense Center (ADC) analyzed the strength of the passwords in a report, Consumer Password Worst Practices, that analyzes 32 million passwords to help consumers identify the most commonly used passwords they should avoid when using social networking or e-commerce sites.
The report identifies the most commonly used passwords:
"Everyone needs to understand what the combination of poor passwords means in today's world of automated cyber attacks: with only minimal effort, a hacker can gain access to one new account every second?or 1000 accounts every 17 minutes," explained Imperva's CTO Amichai Shulman. "The data provides a unique glimpse into the way that users select passwords and an opportunity to evaluate the true strength of passwords as a security mechanism. Never before has there been such a high volume of real-world passwords to examine."
The shortness and simplicity of passwords means many users select credentials that will make them susceptible to basic forms of cyber attacks known as "brute force attacks," the report indicates.
Nearly 50% of users used names, slang words, dictionary words or trivial passwords (consecutive digits, adjacent keyboard keys, and so on). The most common password is "123456", the report found.
For enterprises, password insecurity can have serious consequences. "Employees using the same passwords on Facebook that they use in the workplace bring the possibility of compromising enterprise systems with insecure passwords, especially if they are using easy to crack passwords like '123456'," said Shulman.
"The problem has changed very little over the past 20 years," explained Shulman, referring to a 1990 Unix password study that showed a password selection pattern similar to what consumers select today. "It's time for everyone to take password security seriously; it's an important first step in data security.
The report can be downloaded at: http://www.imperva.com/ld/password_report.asp