Get Real: Are You In Denial About Online Security?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Study by Ping Identity shows half of consumers use the same password across multiple websites

People are out of touch with reality when it comes to password and identity safety online, research has found.

Despite the fact the last two years alone saw about 10 million online records in the UK affected by security breaches, in a study commissioned by identity security company Ping Identity almost three-quarters of respondents (72 percent) believe they have never had the security of their online accounts compromised.

As easy as 1234

Those surveyed also over-estimate the complexity of their passwords. Almost 80 percent believe that their passwords are difficult for others to guess. This is especially alarming as survey also suggests the top three passwords of 2014 were ‘123456’, ‘password’ and ‘12345’.

In response to companies enforcing stricter guidelines on password creation, more than half of respondents (63 percent) found it difficult to remember all their online passwords. The top techniques respondents used to remember their passwords include:

password obvious– Writing them down in a notebook
– Entering passwords as a contact in their mobile phone
– Using an online password manager
– Keeping passwords listed in an Excel spreadsheet
– Writing passwords on a sticky note taped to the computer monitor or keyboard

An alarming number of respondents admitted to following risky password habits. A third (31 percent) have shared their passwords to personal online accounts with other people. Half (49%) noted that they use the same password across multiple websites, putting multiple online access points at risk if one is ever breached.

Jason Goode, managing director, EMEA, at Ping Identity, said: “By now organisations should be aware that passwords are passé when it comes to effectively protecting their customers’ data and identities.

“These findings show that consumers are their own worst enemy online and organisations needs to be more vigilant in protecting their customers not only from hackers, but also from themselves. Organisations are essentially relying on an archaic practice to keep data safe. By deploying systems that centre on a consumer’s identity, organisations can ensure that their employees and customers don’t fall victim to risky password habits and human error.”

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