Five years ago, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates predicted the end of passwords because they failed to keep information secure. The real problem turns out to be people, who just can't pick passwords that offer enough protection.
This point has been hammered home in a study of some 32 million passwords that were posted on the Internet after a hacker obtained them from social entertainment site RockYou last year.
In a report released by Imperva, a security firm, analyzed the strength of the passwords people used and found that the frequent choice of short, simple passwords almost guarantees the success of brute force password attacks. A brute force attack involves automated password guessing, using a dictionary or set of common passwords.
The report reveals that 50% of users rely on slang words, dictionary words, or common arrangements of numbers and letters, like "qwerty," for their passwords.
Jon Brody, VP at TriCipher, another security vendor, confirms that this isn't a new problem. He puts part of the blame on technology innovators for not recognizing that password policies are doomed to fail if they go against human nature.