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Your password peril

Most online social services require a password to gain access to them, but according to research by Kaspersky Lab, many users stick to a favourite or easy to guess password, which is used across all of these accounts, making users very vulnerable to online attacks.

With the increasing importance of the online world and its impact on our daily lives, today people spend more and more time online using web-based services such as, social networks including Twitter, Linkedin, Skype, as well as email, online banking and so on. However, generally, each of these services requires us to use a password for access the problem however is that too many people tend to stick to one ‚’favourite’ password for all their online interactions which can make them vulnerable to online attacks.

Using the same password for different services can be quite tempting and is often the case for many individuals today. However, such an approach can be dangerous, and while it may seem easier to just use one password for all accounts, it is important to note that this could make your online experience vulnerable and therefore, more emphasis needs to be placed on the use of more complex passwords which are not as easily recognisable.

‚”Kaspersky Lab did some research with our friends on Facebook and asked them how many passwords they have for all their online accounts to ascertain if people where using one password for all their accounts. Not surprisingly, about 20% of respondents admitted that they use the same password for all their online accounts,‚” explains Riaan Badenhorst, Head of Operations for Sub-Saharan Africa for Kaspersky Lab.

‚”This statistic needs to change! Consumers need to understand that it is not safe to only have one password for all their online accounts. Cyber criminals are aware that people make use of only one password and so they know that if they can get their hands on this password, it will lead them to access many accounts, which of course can be very beneficial to them,‚” adds Badenhorst.

The research was conducted in a number of countries where the study demonstrated that Russia was the most security-savvy (only 12% of users only have one password to access all their online accounts) and is the most aware of cybercriminals, which translated into the understanding of why it is important to upload proper security onto computers and mobile phones. However, Mexico was identified, in this study, as the most vulnerable to IT threats with 26% of users only having/using one password.

In light of the research Kaspersky Lab conducted with its Facebook friends, the brand was able to divulge even further and unravel some startling insight:

 One user in five countries has the same password for every account

 The average user has five accounts, which means 67% of users have one password for at least two accounts

 17% of users use their birthdates in their passwords

 10% use their telephone numbers

 10% use their names

 9% use their pets name

 12345 is the most popular password, followed by:

o Qwerty

o 1a263b

o Password

o Open up

o Buzz off

‚”While the research points to interesting country and user behaviour, beyond this it is still important to get online users to understand which category they fall into. Today, too many people still do not understand the dangers of only having one password and still maintain that online security breaches ‚’will never happen to me’ attitude?‚” says Badenhorst.

Kaspersky Lab urges all users to educate themselves on the severity of the situation today and follow the brands safety rules to ensure online accounts are kept safe. These safety rules include the following:

 Use strong passwords, which cannot be guessed.

 Keep passwords in your head or use a special programme to store them.

‚”I recommend all users to always be aware of cybercriminals and to make use of more than one password when dealing with their online accounts and the more complicated the password is, the better,‚” says Badenhorst.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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