People over 55 pick more secure passwords than 25-year-olds

When it comes to cybersecurity, there's room for improvement -- even for experts.

When it comes to cybersecurity, there's room for improvement -- even for experts.  (Reuters)

Sorry, gen Y: Your parents are smarter about safety online.

Despite the digital savvy of younger generations, people over age 55 pick passwords that are twice as secure as those chosen by people under age 25, according to a new study by University of Cambridge computer scientist Joseph Bonneau.

“There is a general trend towards better password selection with users’ age,” Bonneau wrote in his study, the largest ever of password security, which was presented at the 2012 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.

Take that, millennial generation!

But before older websurfers start crowing, take note of Bonneau’s larger conclusion: no one makes passwords that are secure enough, regardless of age.

“The most troubling finding of our study is how little password distributions seem to vary … with effective security varying by no more than a few bits,” he wrote.

On average, he found that it would only take around 1,000 attempts to try every possible password and eventually crack them, according to an analysis in New Scientist. That's surprising, because even a randomly chosen six-character password composed of digits and upper and lower case letters should offer far more security.

Lujo Bauer, who studies passwords at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., told New Scientists that Bonneau’s findings were legitimate.

"This is one of the rare studies based on a large set of passwords that are actively used and have been obtained legitimately," he said.