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How SA consumers undermine own online security

January 13th, 2016
A recent survey has shown that 42% of South African Internet users have shared their passwords with somebody or have left them visible for people to see - demonstrating a severe lack of cyber-savviness and how easy it is for cybercriminals to take advantage.
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Nearly half (42%) of Internet users in South Africa admit having shared their passwords with somebody or left them visible for people to see, according to the findings of Kaspersky Lab’s recent consumer surveys. This demonstrates a lack of cyber-savviness and could make it easy for cybercriminals to unlock and gain access into the online lives of consumers.

When 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%), email (51%) and social media sites (32%). The list of the top three most important applications was almost identical, at 68% for online banking, 49% for email and 21% for social media sites.

Consumers also believe that online shopping and payment applications require strong passwords, but don’t place the same value on these sites. Locally, just 16% considered online shopping to be a personally important service, although 24% felt it warranted a strong password. In addition, 34% agreed that online payment systems needed a strong password, with slightly fewer 25% regarding these services as personally valuable.

More worrying is the fact that although consumers agreed that online financial transactions require a strong password, over a quarter (29%) 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.

Putting their personal information at even greater risk, a third (33%) of Internet users locally also admit to freely sharing passwords with family members. 42% have both shared passwords and left them visible to others. One in ten (11%) share passwords with friends and a surprising 8% with colleagues. And, with over a third (38%) of consumers using only one email address for all of their needs, sharing that password with others could prove costly. Should it get into the wrong hands, this password could unlock all information stored on that email address.

“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. No one would expect a friend or family member to knowingly divulge a password, but by sharing passwords, consumers are increasing 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,” comments David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

To help users maintain the integrity of their passwords, Kaspersky Password Manager (a part of Kaspersky Total Security – multi-device) provides an extra layer of protection by securely storing all passwords and synchronising them across all devices. The product remembers and generates strong passwords and has auto-logging capabilities for safer access to valuable applications, accounts and websites.

You can check your own level of cyber-savviness here: https://blog.kaspersky.com/cyber-savvy-quiz/. To read more tips on how to protect yourself online, click here: https://blog.kaspersky.com/tag/cybersavvy.

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