The recent hack of Ashley Madison, a dating website for married people, has left many people’s details publically exposed – and new analysis of this data has revealed commonality in the passwords of people who use the site.
This analysis has shown quite commonly high password choices, such as 123456 (used by 121,000 members) and 12345 (used by 48,000 members). Psychology applicants may be interested to read how , in spite of many passwords appearing generic and impersonal, passwords reveal different personality traits. British psychologist Helen Petrie identified four password ‘genres’, categorizing people as family-oriented, fans, fantasists and cryptics, in descending order of usage.
The data from the Ashley Madison hack was analysed by CynoSure Prime, who found that nearly nearly 5 million of the 11.7 million passwords on Ashley Madison used only lowercase letters, which is a much higher frequency than is found on other website as all lowercase letters in a password is associated with an unfamiliarity with internet protocols and security concerns. Some of these lowercase passwords which were frequently used also appear to reveal the thoughts or motivations of users of the website; including ‘ishouldnotbedoingthis’, ‘ithinkilovemywife’, ‘thisiswrong’ and ‘isthisreallyhappening’. Computer Science applicants may like to consider the acquisition and processing of data involved in large-scale hacks, as well as take heart in the news that computer scientists are likely to choose the most secure passwords of any other profession.