Why Your Personality May Get You Hacked

With our personalities dictating so much of our behavior, we wanted to understand if this translates to our lives online. Following our previous post introducing our research around the psychology of passwords, we wanted to take a deeper dive into each personality type. Our research found that 91 per cent of adults are aware that reusing passwords across different accounts is risky, yet 61 per cent continue to do so. This increases the chances of getting hacked. So the question becomes, do Type A personalities have better password behavior than Type B? Do Type B personalities have more of an understanding around the risks, yet choose not to change out of laziness?

The results indicated that when it comes to online security, personality type does not seem to impact online behavior — both personality types had similar bad password habits. However, personality type does come into play when rationalizing this poor behavior. Our research uncovered how traditional character traits of both Type A and Type B personalities play into creating (or preventing) stronger password habits. Below are some interesting data points that we found to support each of these character traits.

Type A Personality: Poor password behavior in Type A personalities stems from their desire to be in control. Often defined as more competitive and ambitious, they don’t believe they are personally at risk because of their own organized system, even though they reuse passwords. While this system may work for some aspects of life, password behavior must be handled more strategically.

  • Control – 35% reuse passwords because they want to remember them all with ease
  • Detail Oriented – 49% have their own personal “system” for remembering passwords
  • Deliberate – 2/3 are proactive in keeping personal information secure
  • Driven – 86% state that having a strong password makes them feel like they’re protecting themselves and their families

Type B Personality: Identified as more relaxed, Type B personalities rationalize their bad behavior by convincing themselves that their online accounts are of little value to hackers. This thought process enables them to maintain their casual, laid-back attitude when it comes to password security.

  • Nonchalant – 45% believe their accounts aren’t worth a hacker’s time
  • Laid-back – 43% prioritize a password that is easy to remember rather than one that is more secure
  • Flexible – 1/2 feel that they need to limit their online accounts due to fear of a breach
  • Preoccupied – 86% feel other aspects, outside of a weak password, could compromise their online security

What we uncovered in our research was surprising, but as we dug deeper into how these behaviors were rationalized by each personality type, we gained more clarity around why users continue to exhibit poor password behavior. Given that most users admit to knowing better, but still make poor choices in creating and managing passwords, it reinforces the gap between knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it.

Next time you think about sharing your Netflix password so your friend can catch up on the latest show, or choose “password123” to protect your account, consider the repercussions of doing so. If you are serious about establishing more effective defenses, you’ll need a system that makes it easier for good password habits to be your default. Getting started with a password manager can be a step in the right direction.

To learn more about the Psychology of Passwords research, download our executive summary.