Kaspersky experts have conducted a large-scale study on the resistance of 193-million English passwords – compromised by infostealers and available on the darknet – to brute force and smart guessing attacks. The results show that 45% of all analysed passwords (87-million) could be guessed by scammers within a minute.

Just 23% (44-million) of combinations turned out to be resistant enough – cracking them would take more than a year.

Furthermore, Kaspersky experts have revealed which character combinations were most commonly used in passwords.

Kaspersky telemetry indicates more than 32-million attempts to attack users with password stealers in 2023. These numbers show the importance of digital hygiene and timely password policies.

The results of the Kaspersky study demonstrate that the majority of the reviewed passwords were not strong enough and could be easily compromised by using smart guessing algorithms. Here is the breakdown of how fast it can happen:

* 45% (87-million) in less than 1 minute.

* 14% (27-million) – from 1 min to 1 hour.

* 8% (15-million) – from 1 hour to 1 day.

* 6% (12-million) – from 1 day to 1 month.

* 4% (8-million) – from 1 month to 1 year.

Experts identified only 23% (44-million) of passwords as resistant – compromising them would take more than one year.

Furthermore, the majority of the examined passwords (57%) contain a word from the dictionary which significantly reduces the passwords’ strength. Among the most popular vocabulary sequences, several groups can be distinguished:

* Names: “ahmed”, “nguyen”, “kumar”, “kevin”, “daniel”.

* Popular words: “forever”, “love”, “google”, “hacker”, “gamer”.

* Standard passwords: “password”, “qwerty12345”, “admin”, “12345”, “team”.

The analysis showed that only 19% of all passwords contain signs of a strong combination – a non-dictionary word, lowercase and uppercase letters as well as numbers and symbols. At the same time, the study revealed that 39% of such passwords could also be guessed using smart algorithms in less than an hour.

The interesting thing is that attackers do not require deep knowledge or expensive equipment to crack passwords.

For example, a powerful laptop processor will be able to find the correct combination for a password of 8 lowercase letters or digits using brute force in just seven minutes. Modern video cards will cope with the same task in 17 seconds. In addition, smart algorithms for guessing passwords consider character replacements (“e” with “3”, “1” with “!” or “a” with “@”) and popular sequences (“qwerty”, “12345”, “asdfg”).

“Unconsciously, human beings create ‘human’ passwords containing the words from a dictionary in their native languages, and featuring names and numbers,” says Yuliya Novikova, head of Digital Footprint Intelligence at Kaspersky. “Even seemingly strong combinations are rarely completely random so they can be guessed by algorithms. Given that, the most dependable solution is to generate a completely random password using modern and reliable password managers.”