Macworld Online readers are far more security conscious than the rest of the UK population – 70 per cent of whom would reveal their computer password "for a bar of chocolate", a new survey concludes.
The latest poll – which received 1,268 votes – shows 73 per cent of readers use passwords that are either "Cryptic – impossible to guess" (47 per cent), "Fort Knox – I use several different ones" (23 per cent) or "Impregnable – I never use the same one twice" (3 per cent).
However, 27 per cent admit that their passwords are less secure. Some say it's "crackable – the name of a girlfriend or pet" (17 per cent), 2 per cent use their name as their password, and 8 per cent use the word "password".
Our survey said… An Infosecurity Europe study shows that 34 per cent of people use the name of a child or pet.
The survey found that on average people have four passwords to remember. But another survey, by RSA Security, found that two-thirds of people use the same password for every Web site they access.
The average Macworld Online reader has a number of passwords at their fingertips. One explains: "I have three with differing levels of complexity but all based on the same abstract word. The more important the data, the more complex the password."
Word up Macworld readers have outlined their strategies for selecting cryptic passwords on the Macworld Online Forum.
One says: "I used to have a 14 character password with a combination of letters and numbers for my servers, including password protected screen savers."
Another describes his technique as follows: "I first decide on an unlikely word, preferably one that won't appear in a dictionary, then substitute some numbers for some similar looking letters (1=L, 2=Z, 3=E, 4=A etc ). I then add a bit of unexpected capitalisation and end up with a password that's pretty hard to guess, but still easy enough for you to remember."
"My usual choice of passwords vary between seven and 14 characters and I change them about twice a year. My logon at work, which gives access to a Council Intranet, has to change every 90 days and you can never use the same password twice. It also has to include at least one number and no more than two replicated characters. I NEVER give out my passwords, not even to my wife," says another.
One reader suggests using a vehicle number plate, "preferably one you don't own anymore!"
Other readers point out that there are a number of ways in which the use of truly cryptic passwords is complicated.
One reader notes some of the limitations set when choosing passwords: "A recurring problem is the number of characters required. Some sites only allow you a maximum of six."
Another notes: "I have noticed that when entering my user id and security question for online banking when using Safari that it auto enters the words if I enter the first few characters, you still need my password but its something to be a aware of. I recommend that you don't set your Mac to auto log in on startup and you should log out when you are not using it. If you're Mac gets nicked and its logged in they have access to everything."