Brits Spend 22 Hours Per Year Changing Passwords, ExpressVPN Finds

Privacy and security specialist ExpressVPN has revealed some startling insights into the everyday password habits of people in the UK.

The ExpressVPN study surveyed 2,000 people in the US, plus the same number in the UK, France, and Germany. It revealed some of the most questionable password habits over here in the UK, but also the sheer amount of time wasted in order to reset passwords.

For example ExpressVPN found that Brits are changing their passwords too often – and this can have security implications.

Time drain

Indeed, the study found one in 10 Brits change their passwords once a day, while 1 in 5 change their passwords once a week.

This means that the average Brit spends almost an entire day every year changing passwords!

While it might seem a sensible security precaution, experts warn that changing passwords repeatedly could actually put them at further risk, as passwords often become easier to hack through constant changes.

And it is not like people enjoy doing password resets either.

Indeed 33 percent of Brits have stated that changing passwords is the most annoying thing in their lives – even more annoying than losing their keys.

So how much time do Brits actually waste changing passwords?

Well according to the ExpressVPN study, on average it takes Brits three minutes and 45 seconds to reset a single password.

While half of the UK are having to change passwords at least once a month (50 percent), 23 percent claimed they reset a password at least once a week.

Astonishingly, 10 percent of UK respondents admitted to changing passwords at least once a day, which means these people are spending 26 minutes and 36 seconds each week resetting their passwords, adding up to over 22 hours each year!

Password frustrations

Passwords of course are an everyday burden for almost all people nowadays, as services (banking, shopping etc) increasingly become online, coupled with the growing number of online leisure activities (video and music streaming, gaming, social networking etc).

Without proper organisation, it can be impossible to remember every single password, and this adds to the frustration when people cannot remember the correct login and password.

In fact, for one in ten people in the UK, frustration with passwords has become so intense that they have cancelled a purchase from an online retailer because they forgot their passwords and didn’t want to reset them (12 percent) – the ExpressVPN study found.

A further two thirds of people in the UK have been locked out of an account for forgetting their password.

And it seems that the reasons for having to constantly change passwords varies.

One in ten respondents to the ExpressVPN study revealed they usually change their passwords because they are in a hurry to access a site (16 percent).

A third believe there is nothing they can do to avoid resetting their passwords (29 percent), while 40 percent believe changing passwords is a normal part of everyday life.

“We’ve all wished for just a little more time in our lives now and again,” said Harold Li, VP at ExpressVPN. “But instead of trying to embrace more productivity hacks, it looks like the place we should be trying to get time back is the time it takes to reset our passwords.”

Harold Li. Image credit ExpressVPN

“Three minutes and 45 seconds to reset a password may seem inconsequential, but it quickly adds up when you consider how often people are forced into this process, either because they’ve forgotten a password or the password has expired,” Li added.

“The need for passwords as part of our digital lives is not going away anytime soon, which means many people are in a never-ending cycle of resetting passwords”, Li continued,

“The best way to break this cycle of forget and reset is to use a password manager,” Li concluded. “Rather than remembering hundreds of different account logins you only need to remember one, which means you drastically cut down that wasted time in a way that’s both secure and convenient.”

Questionable habits

Password managers will also help avoid some of the questionable habits that surround password resets.

For example not everyone can navigate a password reset on their own, with a worrying 34 percent of UK respondents needing to seek help with password resetting, either from customer services (13.1 percent) or by turning to family for help (12.9 percent).

This need for customer services can be explained after ExpressVPN found that 67.8 percent of Brits have been locked out of an account due to typing an incorrect password.

Thankfully, security questions seem to be saving the day, as just over three-quarters of people (76 percent) are confident they would answer a security question correctly during a password reset process.

But even finishing the password reset process has raised some concern.

While 40 percent of UK respondents opt for manually creating a new, unique password, worryingly, 10 percent admit to reusing passwords from other accounts.

Security experts have long advised people to create unique passwords for every online account, as reusing passwords drastically increases the risk of being impacted by cybercrime.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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