Why are we still telling people our passwords?

Sarah Coles
We can't keep passwords a secret
We can't keep passwords a secret

A third of people find that the easiest way to remember their passwords is to write them down - presumably somewhere handy next to the computer. It seems that we haven't learned any of the lessons from this year's high profile hacks.

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A study by Intelligent Environments discovered alarming lapses in personal security, as we make it far too easy for people to help themselves to our money. It's not surprising, therefore, that according to Privilege Insurance, 6.6 million people in Britain have fallen victim to internet scams and online fraud in the last year alone.


It's not a lack of knowledge that leads us to make mistakes - like sharing passwords - because 60% of people told the Intelligent Environments study that recent hacks had made them more aware of personal data security, and a quarter want to work harder to protect themselves next year.

The problem is that people feel forced to find imperfect solutions - such as writing down passwords because they are fed up of forgetting them. In a separate survey for comparethemarket.com, a quarter of people admitted to using the same PIN and password for all their cards and online accounts. When asked why they did this, over half said that it was for ease of use while 42% did not want to have to remember more than one number.

Protect yourself

Unsurprisingly, while people want to be more secure next year, they also want organisations to make it easier for them to do so. Eventually this will come. There are already banks that send customers pocket machines that generate a code that can be entered online instead of a password. Banks are also working on systems that recognise fingerprints or selfies instead of passwords.

In time, therefore, we won't have to worry about having to keep scores of passwords in our minds. In the interim, however, it's vital that we find a better system for remembering them than simply writing them down and storing the list near the computer.

If you're looking for some inspiration, check out our guide to good and bad passwords, and how to come up with something that nobody would ever guess.