New research by Outpost24 has revealed that IT administrators could be just as predictable as end-users when it comes to passwords. An analysis of just over 1.8 million passwords ranked ‘admin’ as the most popular password (with over 40,000 entries), with additional findings pointing to a continued acceptance of default passwords.
This research comes in light of new legislations brought in by governments in recent years that ban the use of default passwords. This measure is backed by the U.K. government’s Product Security and Telecommunication Infrastructure (PSTII) Bill, and the California default password law (Senate Bill 327).
A default (admin) password is the predefined password for a system, device, or application that is usually associated with the default account and intended to be used for the initial set-up only. These passwords are usually widely well-known or can be found easily by looking up the product documentation. They’re often considered one of the easiest entry points for an attacker.
The data was obtained from Outpost24’s Threat Intelligence solution, Threat Compass. The data from analysis was obtained from credential stealer software. This is pertinent as there is a rise in organised cybercriminal groups, most notably Traffers teams, generating more specialised malware delivery.
To narrow down their overall password list to administrator passwords, they searched the statistical data stored in the Threat Compass backend for pages identified as Admin portals. They found a total of 1.8 million passwords recovered in 2023 (January to September).
The top three admin passwords retrieved by the team were admin, 1234556, and 12345678.
As always, it is advised that administrators do not use default passwords and always create unique, long, strong passwords for each accounts. Additional security measures can be employed to enhance password security too.