Password Pandemonium

Too many user names and passwords to remember ...It seems that many people have been heeding admonitions from seemingly everywhere that they should refrain from using the same user name and password for their various online accounts.

“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.

A surprise? Corporate reputations on the rise.

Corporate reputations on the riseWhat’s happening with the reputations of the leading U.S. corporations? Are we talking “bad rep” or “bum rap”?

Actually, it turns out that corporate reputations are on the rise; that’s according to findings from the 2011 Reputation Quotient® Survey conducted by market research firm Harris Interactive.

Each year since 1999, Harris has measured the reputations of the 60 “most visible” corporations in the United States. The 2011 survey, fielded in January and February, included ~30,000 Americans who are part of Harris’ online panel database. Respondents rated the companies on 20 attributes that comprise what Harris deems the overall “reputation quotient” (RQ).

The 2011 survey contained 54 “most visible” companies that were also part of the 2010 survey. Of those, 18 of the firms showed significant RQ increases compared to only two with declines.

The 20 attributes in the Harris survey are then grouped into six larger categories that are known to influence reputation and consumer behavior:

 Products and services
 Financial performance
 Emotional appeal
 Vision and leadership
 Workplace environment
 Social responsibility

Each of the ten top-rated companies in the 2011 survey achieved between an 81 and 84 RQ score in corporate reputation. (Any RQ score over 80 is considered “excellent” in the Harris study). In cescending order of score, these top-ranked corporations were:

 Google
 Johnson & Johnson
 3M Company
 Berkshire Hathaway
 Apple
 Intel Corporation
 Kraft Foods
 Amazon.com
 Disney Company
 General Mills

At the other end of the scale, the ten companies with the lowest ratings among the 60 included on the survey were:

 Delta Airlines (61 RQ score)
 JPMorgan Chase (61)
 ExxonMobil (61)
 General Motors (60)
 Bank of America (59)
 Chrysler (58)
 Citigroup (57)
 Goldman Sachs (54)
 BP (50)
 AIG (48)

Clearly, BP and AIG haven’t escaped their bottom-of-the-barrel ratings – and probably won’t anytime soon.

What about certain industries in general? The Harris research reveals that the technology segment is perceived most positively, with ~75% of respondents giving that sector a positive rating.

The next most popular segment – retail – had ~57% of respondents giving it a positive rating.

For the auto industry, the big news is not that it’s held in high regard (it’s not) … but that its ratings jumped 15 percentage points between 2010 and 2011. That’s the largest one-year jump recorded for any industry in any year since the Harris RQ Survey began.

What industries are bouncing along the bottom? Predictably, it’s financial services firms and oil companies.

But the news from this survey is, on balance, quite positive. In fact, Harris found that there were actually more individual companies rated “excellent” than has ever been recorded in the history of the survey. Considering the sorry state of the economy and how badly many brands have been battered, that result is nothing short of amazing