In five years we'll need 400 different passwords - expert

Within five years the average person will need to remember a whopping 400 different passwords, an IT security expert claims.

While others think that's a conservative estimate and we'll need even more - or come up with a better way.

"The problem is not passwords - the problem is to ask humans to memorise and manage hundreds of them," Emmanuel Schalit, head of password security company Dashlane, told McClatchy.

He estimates we currently have about 200 accounts that require passwords or some other kind of identification to use - and that's only going up.

Some people give up trying to remember so many passwords, and just use the same one over and over. This is bad, because once a hacker compromises one site you're subscribed to, they have access to anything on any other site you've used that same password on.

Telco Spark was praised when it reset thousands of passwords in September, despite no breach of their own systems, to protect customers who may have used the same password on sites that had been hacked.

Superstar rapper Kanye West shocked security experts when he visited the White House earlier this year and was seen punching in '0000' to unlock his iPhone, in full view of the world's media.

Last week software company SplashData published its list of the most common passwords of 2018. For the fifth year in a row '123456' came in first, with 'password', '123456789' ,'sunshine' and 'qwerty' making the top 10. 'Donald' was a new entry on the annual list, coming in 23rd.

"Hackers have great success using celebrity names, terms from pop culture and sports, and simple keyboard patterns to break into accounts online because they know so many people are using those easy-to-remember combinations," said Morgan Slain, CEO.

Another expert told McClatchy people would likely need more than 400 passwords, but in about a decade we might not need them at all, with the rise of biometric logins - for example, fingerprint and iris scans.

But Mr Schalit said that will open up a whole new set of problems.

"Your fingerprints are exposed. Your voice is exposed. The iris of your eye is exposed. … If your biometric information is stolen, you can't replace it. … It is compromised forever."

In the meantime, services like LastPass and 1Password are alternatives for people who don't want to ever bother with passwords - the catch is you have to trust a third party with your login data.