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Safety & security

Pop quiz: Which generation has the worst password habits?

Kim recently sat down with a former hacker who described the wild shenanigans he used to get up to after breaking into people’s accounts. A savvy invader can do a ton of damage, from snatching your savings to taking over your phone. And hackers aren’t going away anytime soon: There are tons of young kids with an impressive arsenal of security-crushing skills.

In fact, the former hacker once went to a cybersecurity conference and saw a preteen in a shirt that said, “I’m here because your password is 123456.” Weak codes like this make it incredibly easy for cybercriminals to invade your digital life. If you need tips for creating passwords that are easy to remember and hard to track, we’ve got your back. Tap or click here for five rules for unbreakable passwords.

Data breaches can expose the most intimate details of your life, from medical records to private email conversations. But did you know some age groups are at a bigger risk than others? That’s because one demographic has terrible password habits, which puts people at a ton of risk.

As Kim always says, never reuse your password

Researchers with Beyond Identity surveyed over 1,000 Americans to understand how different people deal with passwords, from creation to storage methods. They found that roughly three in four people have had their password breached at least once. (This number is just for people who know they’ve been breached. Who knows how many people could be browsing the web with compromised codes?)

RELATED: Hidden setting in your browser that reveals your hacked passwords

Interestingly, 24% of Gen Zers say they’re extremely likely to reuse the same password. That’s more than any other surveyed demographic. Check out more on the chart below:

Of course, you often have to update your password. That’s because of automated attacks. Clever cybercriminals can set up bots to launch coordinated attacks on your accounts. These bots can come up with tons of potential character combinations to try and generate an accurate password.

That’s why experts recommend changing your passwords every now and then. Researchers found that one in five people update their passwords less than once a year.

RELATED: Use this chart to see how long it’ll take to crack your passwords

Contrast this with popular advice from security experts, who recommend updating your passwords multiple times a year. The frequency depends on the kind of account you’re trying to protect. Tap or click here for Kim’s tips on charting out a password change schedule.

How do people defend professional passwords compared to personal ones?

Here’s another surprising discovery. Gen Zers were the most likely of all groups to say their professional passwords were less secure than their personal accounts. In other words, their job had a weaker code than their social media handle.

Most people surveyed said they memorize their passwords, while 40% used a password manager app. (If you’re in the market, we recommend our sponsor, RoboForm.) Surprisingly, over 20% of people write their passwords on paper, phone notes or computer documents.

“When it comes to a password breach, where you store your password isn’t going to save you,” researchers said. “These types of compromises are usually by breaching institutional-level databases where records are stored.

Want to learn more about how password habits vary along generational lines? Read the full study here.

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