“Password creep” has been the result. Just how much so is revealed in a recently published research studied from social web SaaS provider Janrain, in concert with Harris Interactive.
The 2012 Online Registration & Password Study found that nearly 60% of online adults have five or more unique passwords associated with their online logins.
One-third of the respondents report that they maintain 10 or more passwords. And ~10% report having more than 20 individual passwords.
These figures are up significantly from the first Janrain study, which was conducted back in 2006.
Of course, when one considers the myriad of online activities many people engage in, it’s not hard to fathom how the number of passwords per user has become so large. Consider all of these possibilities just for starters:
- Retail sites and loyalty programs
- TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Yelp! and other review sites
- Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites
- LinkedIn, Career Builder and other career-oriented sites
- Google, Yahoo and other e-mail/search portals
- PayPal and other payment, banking and financial sites
- Hobby sites and discussion boards
- Personal blogs
And the list goes on …
The Janrain/Harris study also uncovered several interesting findings based on age and gender demographics:
- Older people (age 55+) are more likely to have a higher number of unique passwords than younger adults.
- Men age 45-54 report having the highest average number of unique password (~10).
There’s no question that people have heeded the warnings about using passwords that are too easy to “game” … and thus are creating passwords that incorporate a combination of letters, numbers and other symbols.
But the downside is a considerable percentage of people forgetting their passwords frequently.
In fact, more than one-third of the respondents reporte that they have had to ask for assistance on their user name or password at least once in the past month.
And another thing: The vast majority of people (~85%) dislike being asked to register to access information on a new website.
What did they dislike in particular? Half of the respondents complained about having to create and remember yet another user name and password. And ~45% believe that online registration forms are too long and time-consuming to complete.
Despite the irritations of “password pandemonium,” it’s doubtful many online consumers are going to be changing their behaviors very soon.
One alternative would be to create a few strong, secure passwords that are used across multiple sites but changed regularly. But to many, that “cure” is no better than the “disease” they have already.