iTWire – Ok boomer – Palo Alto Networks research finds Baby Boomers better at password reuse than Gen Z

In a string of high-profile cyber attacks on Australian businesses recently, chances are high that it will happen again. Palo Alto Networks research found that cyber security awareness still needs work, especially among young people: Baby Boomers are 76% more likely to use different passwords for online accounts than Gen Z.

A Palo Alto Networks study asked more than a thousand Australians to understand their awareness, attitudes, and expectations. One important finding is that pet names still dominate when it comes to passwords – they are the most commonly used password for all genders, income levels, and education levels. So the lesson for the bad guys is clear: find the name of your target pet, and access to their account. Of course, the lesson for everyone else is clear: stop using simple things like passwords.

Pet names are removed, the second element often differs from group to group:


The second most important password


Street name (past or present)

Generation X

Mother’s Maiden Name

Generation Y

Date of birth (self or spouse)

Generation Z

Their own names

The survey also revealed that half of all Australians who have been targeted by cyber attackers use the same password across online accounts, while only 35% of unsuspecting people use the same password across accounts. As logic would suggest, this finds that using the same password across accounts can increase your risk of being compromised by 15%. Remember that when you do this, your security is only as strong as the most powerful site you trust. Have you used the ‘forgot password’ link on a website and got your password emailed to you? That means that it is stored in clear text (that is, not encrypted) at their end, and if the password is broken, it is also compromised for any other site where you use the same password.

Palo Alto Networks also found:

  • 39% of Australians only change their passwords once a year or less
  • Men are 21% more likely to use different passwords than women
  • Baby Boomers are the best password cleaners, with 76% more likely to use different passwords across online accounts than Generation Z, the worst password cleaner.

You can protect yourself by using a password manager to securely store your passwords and generate complex passwords for you. It’s a great way to get a different, strong password for every site you use.

However, Palo Alto Networks found only 37% of Australians use password management, but it jumps to 49% for those who have experienced a cyber attack in the past – suggesting that more people will take action to protect themselves. one time they have had problems. Still, those two numbers are low given that Apple and Google both provide password managers in their operating systems and apps.

Most men (62%) use password managers to trust that their information is safe, but the opposite is true for women, with only 45% trusting password managers to keep their information safe online .

When it comes to online threats, the majority of Australians (79%) believe unknown web addresses are the biggest online threat. Men are more distrustful of emails from unknown contacts, while women are more wary of downloading links.

Only 15% of Australians believe mobile apps pose a threat. This may be due to the high penetration of Apple iPhones in Australia, which restricts the download of apps from the app store, and perhaps the preference among Android users to use the Google Play app store. Malicious mobile apps are one of the most common threats used by cybercriminals, especially app stores on Android devices.

The personally identifiable information Australians fear losing includes bank and credit card details, internet passwords and driving licences. Australians are likely to fear their email addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays being lost in a data breach. This shows that Australians have a strong understanding of what types of information are most valuable to cyber criminals.

The survey also found greater concern from blue-collar workers about losing information about their families than white workers, up to 225% more.

What can you do to protect yourself? iTWire supporting the minimum standard to follow is multi-factor authentication and complex passwords for every site you use, and a helpful password manager. The numbers above are clear; don’t rely on just one password – and worse, don’t rely on the same password for every site you visit. And if that same password is your pet, well, you can expect it to be compromised. Now that you know, you have two choices: do nothing, or do something. Which one will you choose?

Photo by Christoph Meinersmann from Pixabay


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