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Only a few users change passwords after data breaches!


A study by Carnegie Mellon University's Security and Privacy Institute (CyLab) showed that after the announcement of a data breach, only a third of them users, which have been affected, change their passwords.

The study, presented earlier this month in IEEE 2020 Workshop, was not based on data research, but in real browser traffic.

The academics analyzed the real web traffic, which was collected with his help Security Behavior Observatory (SBO) of the university, a research team, where the users subscribe and share the full history of their browser to enhance academic research.

The data set included information collected by the household computers 249 participants. The data were collected between January 2017 and December 2018. They included web traffic and passwords used to connect to sites and were stored in the browser.

Academics have discovered that of the 249 users, 63 had accounts in domains that had been compromised and they had announce it publicly infringement data, during the survey.

CyLab researchers say of the 63 users, only 21 (33%) visited the breached sites to change their passwords, and of these 21, only 15 users changed code within the first three months after the announcement of the data breach.

In total, only 23 passwords were changed in the violated domains. Of the 21 participants, 18 were Yahoo! users. The rest of Yahoo! users did not change its passwords, although all were affected by data breaches. Two participants changed Yahoo! their codes twice, after the breach notice. Two participants changed the password access in the infringed domain within the first month after the breach notice, five in two months and the rest eight in three months.

data breach

The researchers they were also able to analyze it complexity of the new passwords chosen by the users.

The research team found that of the 21 users who changed passwords, only 9 chose a more powerful code (with appropriate size, characters, etc.).

The rest created passwords with lower or similar power, reusing character sequences that they had in the previous password, or using passwords that were similar to those of other accounts stored in the browser.

The study shows that most users still do not have the knowledge required to select unique and more powerful passwords. Researchers claim that much of the responsibility lies with the perpetrators services-companies, which "almost never tell people to change passwords in their other accounts".

The study did not include too many participants (like others), but it is more accurate in terms of user behavior after infringement data as well based on real browsing data and not in answers that may be inaccurate.

The study is called "(How) Do People Change Their Passwords After a Breach?" and you can read it here.


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