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Do Women and Men Have Similar Password Habits?

Lukas Grigas

At NordPass, we know a lot about passwords. Unfortunately, we know that most are short, simple, and easy to crack. We also know that a whole lot of people struggle with password security. However, a lot less is known about the way people create and treat passwords.

Recently, we conducted research looking into how men and women approach passwords. Here’s what we found.

Women tend to include personal details in their passwords more often than men

The way we create passwords has changed greatly over the years. Many years ago, when the internet as we know it was in its infancy, passwords were a lot simpler than they are today. In those days, notifications urging people to use at least 12 characters, upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols for their password didn't exist. However, to this day we have not abandoned the practice of including personally identifiable information in our passwords.

According to our research, 49% of women in the US infuse their passwords with phrases that have personal significance or are related to personally meaningful memories. Almost 30% of the surveyed women also tend to use family names, pet names, and dates in their passwords.

However, the most alarming finding across both groups is related to password reuse. It turns out that frequently reused passwords are those that contain personally identifiable information.

Both men and women tend to share passwords with family

Sharing is caring. But reckless sharing can be dangerous. When it comes to password sharing, there’s a lot at stake. However, most of us share our online credentials with our family without ever thinking it could pose a major security issue.

The study revealed that 50% of women and 53% of men know their partner’s passwords, with 21% of those surveyed (both men and women) noting that they know all of their partner’s passwords. Just above 40% of the respondents reported that they know their kids’ passwords.

However, women tend to have a more careful approach towards account sharing than men. Only 39% of women in the US and 32% in Germany said that they share their accounts, phones, or computers.

Men are more concerned about unauthorized access

In today’s highly digitized world, unauthorized access to a single account could have dire consequences, to put it lightly. According to our study, on average, men are more worried about such access. A fifth of men are concerned about their partner getting access to their online banking, email, or social media accounts, while — quite naturally — 69% are worried about a hacker getting access to their phone. Interestingly, just over 20% of men are also worried about their kids getting access to their browsing history, while only 9% of women are concerned about that.

If you had other people’s passwords without their knowledge, would you look?

Curiosity is natural. It’s the thing that has helped us humans throughout the history of our existence. However, when asked about whether they would look at other people’s accounts if they had the chance, women were slightly more interested.

In the US, 36% of women would be interested in seeing their kids’ social media accounts rather than their partner’s, while in Germany, more women would be interested in their partner’s account rather than their children’s.

The interesting thing is that both men and women are much more interested in accessing their partner’s or children's social media accounts rather than their colleagues’. In fact, 11% of men would look at their colleague’s online banking account without their knowledge, while only 5% of women would do this.

A single rule to boost your password security: don’t reuse passwords ever

Password security can be tricky, we get that. But if there was a password hygiene bible, the first commandment would read: do not reuse passwords. The biggest problem with password reuse is that if one account becomes compromised, all the others fall like dominoes — even if that single password you reused was strong.

In today’s digital world, password managers make the problem of password management virtually non-existent. Password managers such as NordPass offer a variety of features and functionalities that not only ensure the security of your passwords but help you manage them in an efficient and user-friendly way. With NordPass, you can have your passwords, along with other sensitive data such as credit cards, secure notes, and personal information, safely locked in a single place. Thanks to its sync capabilities, everything you store in your vault can be accessed on up to 6 devices. But the best thing about a password manager is that, once you adopt one, you will no longer need to remember different passwords for different accounts, nor will you need to manually type them.

At this point, it seems that we keep saying that a password manager is a must-have tool almost like a chant, but it really is if you want to have a smooth and secure online experience.

  • Discover how effective and user-friendly password security can be with NordPass Premium.

Final thoughts

Of course, studies like this one reveal important things about the way we approach and handle passwords, and we also get to do fun comparisons, but, at the end of the day, password security is a human issue. Passwords aren’t going away anytime soon, so it is best to practice good habits as much as possible so they become second nature.

Just think about how much valuable information you store in your online accounts. Sure, that information may seem intangible, but it is very real. We’re talking about your bank and social security accounts and much more. And now ask yourself whether you would use the most basic lock and key to secure a room that stores all said information.

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