Even top-level executives are practicing poor password hygiene

(Image credit: italii Vodolazskyi / Shutterstock)

Despite constant warnings from their IT departments and CTOs, high-ranking business executives have the same equally unhealthy password habits (opens in new tab) as many other internet users do.

To learn more about the password habits of business owners, CEOs and other c-suite executives, NordPass (opens in new tab) partnered with independent researchers who analyzed over 290m data breaches (opens in new tab) worldwide. Together, they grouped passwords according to job title and industry with organizations in technology, finance, construction, healthcare and hospitality experiencing the most security incidents.

Share your thoughts on Cybersecurity and get a free copy of the Hacker's Manual 2022 (opens in new tab)

Share your thoughts on Cybersecurity and get a free copy of the Hacker's Manual 2022 (opens in new tab). Help us find how businesses are preparing for the post-Covid world and the implications of these activities on their cybersecurity plans. Enter your email at the end of this survey (opens in new tab) to get the bookazine, worth $10.99/£10.99.

Among the various executive roles examined in NordPass’ research, using easily hackable passwords that mainly include sequence combinations of numbers or letters was a visible trend among business executives. 

Some of the poor passwords observed include but are not limited to “1q2w3e,” “12345,” “11111,” and “qwerty.” However, the winner across all categories remains “123456 (opens in new tab)” (used over 1m times) with the password “password (opens in new tab)” (used over 700k times) coming in second.

Coming up with strong and unique passwords

NordPass’ research also found that top-level executives often use names or mythical creatures as an inspiration when creating passwords as opposed to using a password generator (opens in new tab) to create strong and unique passwords.

The most popular mythical creatures used when coming up with passwords are “dragon” and “monkey” while the most widely chosen names used in passwords are “Tiffany,” “Charlie,” “Michael,” and “Jordan” which may or may not be a reference to the legendary basketball player.

CEO of NordPass, Jonas Karklys provided further insight the company’s research and how all internet users share common ground when it comes to passwords, saying:

“It is unbelievable how similar we all think, and this research simply confirms that — what we might consider being very original, in fact, can place us in the list of most common. Everyone from gamer teenagers to company owners are targets of cybercrimes, and the only difference is that business entities, as a rule, pay a higher price for their unawareness.”

To avoid falling victim to a data breach as the result of poor password hygiene, NordPass recommends using a password manager (opens in new tab) to securely store all of the passwords for your online accounts and enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA (opens in new tab)) for an additional layer of security.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.