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World Password Day – Are You Using Strong Passwords?

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Each year on the first Thursday of May, we observe World Password Day. Intel created it in 2013 to raise public awareness of the critical need for using strong passwords. But seven years later, the need is still there and perhaps even more critical than ever.

Today the world is practicing 20-second hand washings, social distancing, sheltering in place and face mask wearing to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Similar due diligence by U.S. internet users is sorely needed to protect against the spread of cyber viruses and other threats. That’s according to a Webroot survey released last month.

Webroot and Carbonite (both OpenText companies) partnered with Wakefield Research to survey 10,000 U.S. consumers — 200 interviews in each of the 50 U.S. states — about their attitudes, perspectives and behaviors related to cybersecurity practices. Data from that survey determined each state’s susceptibility to cybercrime. The states were ranked in order from the worst to the best in terms of risk factors.

The Dangers of Weak Passwords

Americans are still falling short of the mark when it comes to using strong passwords. And as Webroot notes, “It’s particularly important for clients to exercise good password security hygiene and implement strong password requirements. Weak passwords can lead to breaches of client data. This reflects poorly on the security solutions in place, even when they weren’t to blame.”

Click through the following gallery to see where each state ranks — from worst to best — in using strong passwords and other steps to protect themselves and their data online.

Datapipe's Robb Allen

The Five Worst: New York, California, Texas, Alabama and Arkansas

1. New York: Nearly 3/4 of New Yorkers keep their social media accounts public.
2. California: 61% of Californians depend on children (aged 18 and under) for cybersecurity knowledge.
3. Texas: Almost half of those in the Lone Star State believe they may have been targeted by a phishing attack in the past year.
4. Alabama: 2/3 of Alabamans believe they may have provided personal information in a phishing scam.
5. Arkansas: 83% of Arkansans have experienced a cyberattack or know someone who has.

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020

States ranked 6-10 worst for online hygiene

6-10: Washington, Florida, Alaska, Nevada and Colorado

6. Washington: 70% of Washingtonians reuse the same passwords across personal and business accounts.
7. Florida: Nearly 1/3 of Sunshine State residents has had their identity stolen at least once.
8. Alaska: Almost 3/4 of Alaskans say one of their debit, credit or ATM cards has been misused as a consequence of identity theft.
9. Nevada: 2/3 of Nevadans still don't use an identity protection service, even though 27% of people have had their identity stolen at least once.
10. Colorado: More than 1/3 of Coloradans have shared their passwords or other access credentials with others.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020

States ranked 11-15 worst for online hygiene

11-15: Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma

11. Georgia: Nearly 50% of Georgians reuse passwords across multiple online accounts.
12. Illinois: 72% of Illinois residents have experienced a cyberattack or know someone who has.
13. Mississippi: Less than half of Mississippi residents could confidently explain malware to another person.
14. Louisiana: Half of Louisiana residents back up their data using an encrypted format.
15. Oklahoma: 1/4 of 4 Oklahomans have had their identity stolen at least once.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020

States ranked 16-20 worst for online hygiene

16-20: Indiana, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Tennessee and Kansas

16. Indiana: On average, Hoosiers have 22.23 online accounts that require a username and password.
17. Massachusetts: 72% of Bay Staters have experienced a cyberattack or know someone who has.
18. Connecticut: 60% of Connecticut residents reuse the same passwords across personal and business accounts.
19. Tennessee: 1/3 of Tennessee residents depend on children (aged 18 and under) for cybersecurity knowledge.
20. Kansas: More than 1/3 of Kansans share passwords for streaming video services (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, etc.) which is proven to increase chances of identity theft.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020

States ranked 21-25 worst for online hygiene

21-25: Montana, Maine, Utah, South Carolina and Idaho

21. Montana: 20% of Montanans have had their identity stolen at least once.
22. Maine: Almost half of Down Easters reuse the same passwords across personal and business accounts.
23. Utah: 14% of Utah residents admit they don't take appropriate steps to protect themselves from cyberattacks.
24. South Carolina: Nearly 2/3 of South Carolinians believe they have provided personal information in a phishing scam in the last year.
25. Idaho: 29% of Idaho residents have had their identity stolen at least once.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020

States ranked 26-30 worst for online hygiene

26-30: West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Maryland and Hawaii

26. West Virginia: Nearly 1/3 of West Virginians have shared their passwords or other access credentials with others.
27. Missouri: 21% of Missourians never back up their data.
28. Ohio: 59% of Buckeyes keep their social media accounts public.
29. Maryland: Over 1/4 of Marylanders have had their identity stolen at least once.
30. Hawaii: More than 1/4 of those in the Aloha State have probably provided their personal information in a phishing scam.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020

States ranked 31-35 worst for online hygiene

31-35: North Dakota, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia

31. North Dakota: Nearly 3/4 of North Dakotans have experienced a cyberattack or know someone who has.
32. Minnesota: Nearly 50% of Minnesotans reuse the same passwords across personal and business accounts.
33. North Carolina: Nearly 1/3 of North Carolinians share passwords for streaming video services (e.g., Nextflx, Hulu, etc.), which is proven to increase the chances of identity theft.
34. South Dakota: 49% of South Dakotans don't care if their devices are listening in on their conversations.
35. Virginia: Nearly 1/4 of Virginians have lost a device containing personal data, meaning their data is up for grabs to whomever finds those devices.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020
States ranked 36-40 worst for online hygiene

36-40: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arizona and Delaware

36. Michigan: More than 50% of Michiganders reuse the same passwords across personal and business accounts.
37. Pennsylvania: Less than half of Keystone State residents could confidently explain malware to another person.
38. Kentucky: Only 39% of Kentucky residents could confidently explain malware to another person.
39. Arizona: More than 1/2 of Arizonans believe they may have provided personal information in a phishing scam in the past year.
40. Delaware: 87% of Delaware residents use antivirus software, but 13% are still unprotected.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020

States ranked 41-45 worst for online hygiene

41-45: Vermont, Rhode Island, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Mexico

41. Vermont: Of Vermont residents whose identities have been stolen, 96% have experienced negative consequences, including misuse of credit, debit or ATM cards.
42. Rhode Island: 67% of Rhode Island residents keep their social media accounts public.
43. Iowa: 66% of Iowans aren't sure if their backups are encrypted, so their data could be up for grabs.
44. Wisconsin: Less than 1/2 of those in America’s Dairyland who have experienced a cyberattack or know someone who has bothered to improve their online cyber-safety habits.
45. New Mexico: 91% of New Mexicans think they are taking appropriate steps to protect themselves from cyberattack.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020

The five best U.S. states for online hygiene

The Five Best: New Jersey, Oregon, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Nebraska

46. New Jersey: Only 23% of Garden State residents have shared passwords of other access credentials with others, which is lower than the national average (34%).
47. Oregon: 44% of Oregonians can confidently explain malware, ransomware, phishing and cryptomining to another person.
48. Wyoming: 87% of Wyoming residents regularly back up their data.
49. New Hampshire: Of the New Hampshire residents whose identities have been stolen, 100% have experienced negative consequences, including misuse of credit, debit or ATM cards.
50. Nebraska: 92% of Nebraskans are currently using the most secure Windows operating system.

 

Source: Assessing “Cyber Hygiene” in the U.S., Wakefield Research, February 2020


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