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Password Policies Remain Archaic Across Organizations

Despite the clear and present danger that weak passwords pose to organizations, many remain focused on implementing technology based on policy, not the user, to address the problem.

A study from LastPass and Ovum reveals that more than half of IT executives surveyed rely on employees alone to monitor their own password behavior. About 61% of IT executives surveyed rely exclusively on employee education to enforce strong passwords, so employees are essentially on their own, with no technology in place to enforce any password strength requirement.

The study further revealed that 76% of employees say they experience regular password usage problems, and more than a third of users need password-related help desk support at least once every month.

Defense against password sharing is far too weak as well. When asked how they guard against unnecessary password sharing, 64% of IT execs surveyed had no technology in place, and only 14% had automated control facilities in place to know when it is happening.

“This research has clearly identified an urgent need to close the password security gap,” said Andrew Kellett, principal analyst, Infrastructure Solutions at Ovum. “Far too many organizations are leaving the responsibility for password management to their employees and don’t have the automated password management technology in place to identify when things are going wrong.”

The report, which surveyed hundreds of IT executives and corporate employees globally, additionally found that 78% of IT executives lack the ability to control access to the cloud-based applications used by their employees. Most companies are aware of this lack of visibility and control, yet the majority are not doing enough, if anything at all, to address the situation.

Making matters worse, outdated manual processes still prevail. IT executives at four in 10 companies surveyed still rely on entirely manual processes to manage user passwords for cloud applications.

“In many cases, an organization’s password management practices are overly reliant on manual processes and far too often place an excessive level of trust in employees to use safe password practices,” said Matt Kaplan, GM of LastPass. “The threat posed by human behavior coupled with the absence of technology to underpin policy is leaving companies unnecessarily at risk from weak or shared passwords. Organizations need to focus on solving for both obstacles in order to significantly improve their overall security.”

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