Teenage password security

Apr 26, 2013

Many of us are sharing increasing amounts of personal information through online social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. However, according to Charlott Lorentzen, Markus Fiedler and Henric Johnson of the Blekinge Institute of Technology, School of Computing, in Karlskrona, Sweden, many of us are side-stepping apparently laborious security measures and putting our data at risk of being hijacked and used in identity theft and other fraud.

Writing in the International Journal of Communication Networks and Distributed Systems, the Swedish team points out that there are also more subtle risks associated with the carefree sharing of personal information, such as compromising situations potentially arising in both our private and professional lives should our data or the site on which it is hosted be accessed by malicious third parties.

At the forefront of the problem is the issue of using secure passwords. While no can ever be 100 percent secure, annual surveys reveal that far too many users rely on simplistic names, dates, anniversaries and even plain dictionary words, like "password", and strings of numbers "123456" as their passwords because it is easier to remember. This, of course, provides a false sense of security when accessing some sites in which a simple brute-force attack on logins would quickly and easily expose the weakness in such passwords.

The Swedish team has surveyed teenage users of social media sites, the so-called born after the initial emergence into the mainstream of the internet, mobile computing and sites. They surveyed two groups: one at a secondary school and compared their password use with staff members at a technology institute. They also asked the teenagers about their perception of online safety and risk. The passwords and attitudes of 67 male and 70 female teenagers were analysed and data correlated with the students studying commerce, hotel and restaurant, , and technology.

The team found that students on more technically oriented courses tended to have more sophisticated passwords, as one might expect, but few students used the same password for their Facebook and email accounts, which is a promising development compared with earlier surveys that showed many students use the same password on all systems. Previous surveys showed 75% of users duplicated passwords whereas the Swedish results suggest this is now about 40%. For staff at the Institute, duplication was 17%. "The order of magnitudes of all figures may suggest that many users do not prioritise their personal security on Facebook, and that more awareness would be needed to improve this situation," the team says.

"Our results indicate that bad password strategies may be 'taught away', or that there would be a point in having good password strategies and online safety taught in primary or secondary school to increase security awareness," the team concludes.

Explore further: Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

More information: "On user perception of safety in online social networks" in Int. J. Communication Networks and Distributed Systems, 2013, 11, 77-91.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Are you any good at creating passwords?

Jan 30, 2010

There's an interesting little study that's been done by security firm Imperva, which analyzed some 32 million passwords posted online in December by some enterprising hacker.

Password breach spreads beyond LinkedIn

Jun 07, 2012

More websites admitted security breaches Thursday after LinkedIn said some of its members' passwords were stolen, and experts warned of email scams targeting users of the social network. ...

Facebook adds 'app' passwords to site security

Oct 27, 2011

Facebook is ramping up security by giving people the option of setting passwords for games or other third-party applications added to pages at the leading online social network.

Recommended for you

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

1 hour ago

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...

Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law

Apr 23, 2014

Brazil's Congress on Tuesday passed comprehensive legislation on Internet privacy in what some have likened to a web-user's bill of rights, after stunning revelations its own president was targeted by US ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.