‘Password’ Still the Most Common Term Used by Hackers to Successfully Breach Enterprise Networks According to Specops 2023 Weak Password Report
Protecting Active Directory and Setting Organization-wide Policies Remain Critical to Businesses
PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Specops Software, a leading provider of password management and user authentication solutions, has today announced the release of its annual Weak Password Report which analyzed over 800 million breached passwords, and proves passwords are still the weakest link in an organization’s network.
The study found 88% of passwords used in successful attacks consisted of 12 characters or less, with the most common being 8 characters (24%). The most common base terms used in passwords were: ‘password’, ‘admin’, ‘welcome’ and ‘p@ssw0rd’. Passwords containing only lowercase letters were the most common character combination found, making up 18.82% of passwords used in attacks.
Ironically, the study revealed that 83% of compromised passwords did satisfy both length and complexity requirements of cybersecurity compliance standards such as NIST, PCI, ICO for GDPR, HITRUST for HIPAA and Cyber Essentials for NCSC.
“This shows that while organizations are making concerted efforts to follow password best practices and industry standards, more needs to be done to ensure passwords are strong and unique,” said Darren James, product manager at Specops Software. “With the sophistication of modern password attacks, additional security measures are always required to protect access to sensitive data.”
Furthermore, brute force attacks are a common tactic used by cybercriminals to gain access into an organization’s network to steal sensitive data. Threat actors will use common, probable, and even breached passwords to systematically run them against a user’s email to gain access to a given account. For example, the Specops researchers also noticed the inclusion of ‘homelesspa’ – a password term found in 2016 MySpace data leak, proving that ‘old’, breached password terms are still being leveraged by hackers many years later. This is a critical reason why organizations need strong password policy enforcement.
The research was largely compiled through analysis of 800 million breached passwords, a subset of the 3 billion unique passwords in Specops Breached Password Protection.
Real-world example: Nvidia
In Nvidia’s data breach in 2022, where thousands of employee passwords were leaked, many employees had used passwords such as ‘Nvidia’, ‘qwerty’ and ‘nvidia3d’. Having passwords related to the organization is an easy route for hackers into the network. Despite industry warnings against easily guessable passwords, users are still resorting to common passwords.
“The 2023 edition of the Weak Password Report reiterates the ongoing challenges of securing the weakest link in the enterprise IT environment,” said James. “To stay on top of today’s credential attacks, all companies should put strong password policy enforcement in place, including custom dictionaries related to the organization.”
Password Protection Best Practices
Even with end-user training, password reuse and other risky practices are all too common. To protect corporate data, James and Specops recommend three key enforcement measures:
- For most business, this starts with protecting Active Directory, the universal authentication solution for Windows domain networks.
- Default password policy settings in Active Directory do not go far enough. Third-party password security software can strengthen Active Directory accounts.
- Look for a solution that can block the use of compromised passwords and commonly used terms with custom dictionaries.
For more information about the research, check out the full data and analysis here.
About Specops Software
Specops Software, an Outpost24 Group company, is the leading provider of password management and authentication solutions. Specops protects your business data by blocking weak passwords and securing user authentication. With a complete portfolio of solutions natively integrated with Active Directory, Specops ensures sensitive data is stored on-premises and in your control. Everyday thousands of organizations use Specops Software to protect business data.
The Outpost24 Group is pioneering cyber risk management with vulnerability management, application security testing, threat intelligence and access management – in a single solution. Over 2,500 customers in more than 65 countries trust Outpost24’s unified solution to identify vulnerabilities, monitor external threats and reduce the attack surface with speed and confidence. Delivered through our cloud platform with powerful automation supported by our cyber security experts, Outpost24 enables organizations to improve business outcomes by focusing on the cyber risk that matters.
For more information, visit https://specopssoft.com/