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Most Americans find password loss as stressful as a personal illness

March 2024 by NordVPN

Around 60% of Americans consider password loss as stressful as a personal injury or an illness, financial problems, or dismissal from work, the digital stress survey conducted by NordPass indicates.

The study, which investigated the effects increasing cybersecurity demands have on people’s mental health, reveals that 58% of adults in the United States (US) fear losing access to an important account without a reset option. To compare, the same percentage of people also find a personal injury or illness, as well as financial problems highly stressful. Dismissal from work terrifies 52% of people.

“The fact that password management issues cause more worries for Americans than personal health matters is concerning. This insight again proves passwords no longer fit people’s needs, and the switch towards alternative methods of online authentication should become the key priority for service providers,” says Tomas Smalakys, the CTO of NordPass.

Why do passwords cause so much stress?

NordPass found that the fear of losing access to an account is related to a person having too many passwords at hand and, as a result, struggling to recall which password belongs to which account.

In the US, over half of internet users (56%) agreed password management is a challenge for them. In the UK, fewer people (45%) feel this way.

According to NordPass data, an average internet user has around 100 passwords to manage. This number contains both personal and business accounts, many of which are used on a daily basis. As Smalakys explains, with so many credentials to remember, people tend to create weak passwords and reuse them, which then results in data breaches.

“It’s an unfortunate cycle. We fear losing access to our accounts and create simple passwords so we don’t forget them, while the most direct way to lose an account is actually to create a simple password for it,” says Smalakys.

Based on the Verizon Data Breach Investigations report, 74% of all breaches include the human element, and creation of weak passwords is among the key causes.

Tips to reduce password management induced stress

To ensure password management is less challenging, Smalakys recommends using the following cybersecurity practices.

1. Adopt a password manager. This solution allows someone to securely store all passwords, passkeys, credit cards, and other digital assets in one place, autofilling them on websites and sharing them with others in an end-to-end encrypted environment. Password managers also generate secure passwords consisting of at least 20 digits.

2. Give passkeys a try. Many tech companies, including Microsoft, Google, and Apple, offer a passwordless login with passkeys. Passkeys are a new technology, approved by the prestigious FIDO Alliance and considered the healthiest and the most convenient alternative to passwords.

3. Delete accounts you no longer use. Rarely used accounts often get abandoned, which makes them attractive to cybercriminals. The passwords for these accounts become outdated and are then easily crackable.

Methodology: The survey described in this article was conducted in 2023. Both in the US and the UK, 1,000 respondents per country participated. All were above 18 years old.

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