Password meters themselves are not a bad idea, but you clearly need to be using or providing the right one.
Password meters themselves are not a bad idea, but you clearly need to be using or providing the right one.

Inconsistent, misleading password meters can increase risk of cyber attacks: Study

ANI | Updated: Dec 23, 2019 17:03 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Dec 23 (ANI): Inconsistent and misleading advice offered on some of the world's most popular websites could actually be doing more harm than good, says a recent study.
Password meters">Password meters are frequently made available to help the users secure their personal data against the threats posed by cybercriminals.
The study conducted at the University of Plymouth has assessed the effectiveness of 16 password meters that people are likely to use or encounter on a regular basis.
The research says that there is a clear level of variation in the advice offered across different websites.
The study was published in the journal Computer Fraud and Security.
The main focus was dedicated password meter websites, but the study also sought to assess those embedded in some common online services (including Dropbox and Reddit) and those found as standard on some of our devices.
And while some meters do effectively steer users towards more secure account passwords, some will not pick them up when they try to use 'abc123', 'qwertyuiop' and 'iloveyou' - all listed this week among the worst passwords of 2019.
The study was conducted by Steve Furnell, Professor of Information Security and Leader of the University's Centre for Security, Communications and Network Research.
Commenting on the latest research, Prof Furnell said: "Over the festive period, hundreds of millions of people will receive technology presents or use their devices to purchase them."
"The very least they should expect is that their data will be secure and, in the absence of a replacement for passwords, providing them with consistent and informed guidance is key in the quest for better security."
"What this study shows is that some of the available meters will flag an attempted password as being a potential risk whereas others will deem it acceptable. Security awareness and education are hard enough, without wasting the opportunity by offering misleading information that leaves users misguided and with a false sense of security."
The study tested 16 passwords against the various meters, with 10 of them being ranked among the world's most commonly used passwords (including 'password' and '123456').
Of the 10 explicitly weak passwords, only five of them were consistently scored as such by all the password meters, while 'Password1!' performed far better than it should do and was even rated strongly by three of the meters.
However, one positive finding was that a browser-generated password was consistently rated strong, meaning users can seemingly trust these features to do a good job.
Prof Furnell added: "Password meters">Password meters themselves are not a bad idea, but you clearly need to be using or providing the right one."
"It is also worth remembering that, regardless of how the meters handled them, many systems and sites would still accept the weak passwords in practice and without having offered users any advice or feedback on how to make better choices," he added. (ANI)