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The following table shows the z-values associated with the statistical test that the two given domains have the same proportion of users with strong passwords.Also, I will only look at accounts that contain an e-mail address with a domain that was registered in the database at least 50 times.This restriction is in place partly because it is extremely difficult to compute any sort of meaningful statistics on something with a sample size that is much smaller than 50, and it is partly due to the fact that Gawker doesn’t require verified e-mail addresses (so 46993 of the 52593 domain names listed in the database were used by exactly one person, many of which are clearly fake and/or for SPAM).
The numbers here are the result of removing any incomplete rows from the database (i.e., rows missing a password, e-mail address, or both) and removing any accounts that were clearly created by SPAMbots (I’m only interested in the password strength of real users).
This security breach is unfortunate for people whose information is contained within that database, but the silver lining is that it provides a rare opportunity for statistics nerds like me to analyze some otherwise completely unobtainable data.
Because the passwords were encrypted using such an out-of-date scheme (tsk, tsk, Gawker), about 200,000 of the passwords contained in the database have been decrypted.
In this post I will look at trends in which users’ passwords were cracked to gain insight into which users do and do not create strong passwords.
It should of course be made clear that, because this data comes from a single database, the results that follow may not be representative of the population as a whole, but rather may be skewed by the fact that people with Gawker accounts are generally more “techy” than the average internet user.