This is according to findings of a recent consumer survey suggesting 42 percent of users had been lax with their passwords.
Kaspersky Lab, the cyber-security company that conducted the survey, said this demonstrated a lack of cyber-savviness and could make it easy for cybercriminals to unlock and gain access into the online lives of consumers.
“Consumers need to be more cyber-savvy about passwords. Once shared, it is very difficult to know exactly where your password will end up. Our research shows that there is a real disconnect between the understanding of why we need strong passwords and the action people take to keep them
safe,” said David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
Emm said divulging passwords increased the risk of them falling into the wrong hands.
“This could give cybercriminals easy access to personal and financial information and hacked accounts can be used to distribute malicious links and files, harming others. At worst, entire identities could be put at risk. Even the most complex password is weak if it’s visible to others, so keep it to yourself.”
Meanwhile, according to Kaspersky, asked about the importance of passwords, respondents were more likely to think strong passwords were necessary for the online services they valued most highly.
The studies found that according to South African consumers the sites most in need of strong passwords were online banking (69 percent), email (51 percent) and social media sites (32 percent).
The list of the top three most important applications was almost identical, at 68 percent for online banking, 49 percent for email and 21 percent for social media sites.
Consumers also believe that online shopping and payment applications require strong passwords, but do not place the same value on these sites.
Locally, just 16 percent considered online shopping to be a personally important service, although 24 percent felt it warranted a strong password.
In addition, 34 percent agreed that online payment systems needed a strong password, with slightly fewer 25 percent regarding these services as personally valuable.
Kaspersky said more worrying is the fact that although consumers agreed that online financial transactions require a strong password, over a quarter (29 percent) think there is no need to have additional protection for their personal credentials when using these services.
They expect the brands they shop with to provide all the protection they need.
– CAJ News