Attention businesses: please stop using the worst passwords possible

password manager security
(Image credit: Passwork)

Corporate passwords are still being breached at an alarming rate, with many businesses continuing to use the most easily hackable strings imaginable. 

In its annual Weak Password Report, password management firm Specops Software analyzed over 800 million breached passwords, finding they are, "still the weakest link in an organization's network."

Unsurprisingly, 88% of those that were cracked were made up of 12 characters or less, with the most common phrases being ‘password’, ‘admin’, ‘welcome’ and ‘p@ssw0rd. Nearly 20% also contained exclusively lower case characters.

Not strong enough

What is perhaps more surprising is that even passwords considered strong in line with standards such as NIST and PCI made up 83% of those compromised.

“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," Specops Product Manager Darren James noted.

"With the sophistication of modern password attacks, additional security measures are always required to protect access to sensitive data," he added.

Brute force attacks were commonplace for threat actors, going through common and breached passwords and using them in combination with a business email until they eventually gained access to a firm's account.

The report even found that old passwords, such as one leaked in a 2016 breach of MySpace, were still being successfully employed by hackers. 

It also mentions the breach of Nvidia in April 2022, where many employees had secured their accounts with weak passwords such as 'Nvidia’, ‘qwerty’ and ‘nvidia3d’, showing that even large and prominent firms are guilty of poor password practices. 

To tackle the problem, James recommends that businesses first protect "Active Directory, the universal authentication solution for Windows domain networks." Then, third-party software, such as password managers and password generators should be used to create and ensure the use of strong and unique passwords. 

Lewis Maddison
Staff Writer

Lewis Maddison is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro. His area of expertise is online security and protection, which includes tools and software such as password managers. 

His coverage also focuses on the usage habits of technology in both personal and professional settings - particularly its relation to social and cultural issues - and revels in uncovering stories that might not otherwise see the light of day.

He has a BA in Philosophy from the University of London, with a year spent studying abroad in the sunny climes of Malta.