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Is Your Password 'Password1'? Most Common Login, Study Finds

Is Your Password
March 2, 2012 1:54PM

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A new target for hackers is franchises, according to the Global Security Report by Trustwave. More than a third of data security investigations involved franchise businesses, according to Trustwave's report. One of the reasons franchises have become targets is because the same IT systems are used across multiple stores.

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Do you know the most common password in the business world? If you do, that's the problem. Lots of other people also know or can guess: It's Password1.

That bit of confirming wisdom is contained in the 2012 Global Security Report from security firm Trustwave, released last month. The report, built on data from 2,000 vulnerability scans at client companies and 300 recent investigations into security breaches, highlights key data security risk areas and trends -- and one of the ongoing ones is selection of an insufficiently obscure and complex password.

Satisfies Active Directory

The most common way of breaking into protected computers or networks is by guessing the password. Password1, in that exact form, satisfies the conditions that are required by Microsoft's Active Directory, in that it has a capital letter, a number, and a sufficient number of characters.

While Password1 is the most common single password, some variation on the word 'password' accounts for about 5 percent of all passwords. The next most popular, accounting for about 1 percent, is the word 'welcome.'

Trustwave used several commonly available password-cracking tools on some of its clients' systems. Out of 2.5 million passwords, it was able to figure out about 10 percent of them. Trustwave puts the blame not only on employees, but also on businesses, since they allow employees and system administrators to use weak passwords.

The company's Global Security Report also focused on some other data security-related trends. For instance, a new target for hackers is franchises, with more than a third of data security investigations last year involving franchise businesses. One of the reasons that franchises have become popular targets, according to the report, is because the same IT systems are used across multiple stores, providing a larger payoff once that system is broken.

Franchises Targeted

A key trend cited in the report is a targeting of consumer records, with nearly 90 percent of all attacks intended to acquire personal, confidential information, including credit card data.

The food and beverage industry is the top target of cybercriminals, for the second year running. Investigations into data breaches are also rising. Trustwave said that it conducted 42 percent more investigations last year than in 2010, in 18 countries. The company said the increase was due to "targeted, sophisticated attacks resulting in breaches," as well as more Asia-Pacific region investigations.

The most likely time for a malicious e-mail attachment to be sent? According to the report, it's between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Eastern time in the U.S.

The report also found that the ability or inclination of companies to detect security breaches declined in 2011, with only 16 percent of attacked companies able to determine by themselves that they had been compromised.

The other 84 percent had to rely on external information from a regulator, law enforcement or the public. Businesses that had to rely on external information gave the attackers an average of 173.5 days to enjoy that target company's environment without detection.

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