News Commentary

Pinoy net users careless about passwords – study

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Almost half of the world’s Internet users admit to being careless with their passwords, making them vulnerable to hacking.

A global study conducted by the Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab, whose more than 1,000 respondents were from the Philippines, showed that an alarmingly high 44 percent admit to having shared their passwords with somebody or left them visible to others.

Kaspersky Lab said the result of the Consumer Security Risks Survey 2015 indicated a lack of cyber-knowledge, which makes it easy for criminals to gain access to one’s information online.

David Emm, Kaspersky Lab principal security researcher, said with the Internet becoming a major part of people’s lives, including banking and bills payment transactions, more care should be given to email accounts and gadget passwords.

“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 it, consumers are increasing the risk of it falling into the wrong hands,” Emm said.

This could give cyber criminals easy access to one’s personal and financial information, and hacked accounts can be used to distribute malicious links and files to harm others.

“Worst, the identity of the victim can be at risk. Even the most complex password is weak if it’s visible to others, so keep it to yourself,” Emm said.

Asked about the importance of passwords, respondents were more likely to think strong passwords were necessary for online services they valued most highly.

The study said consumers believe the sites that need strong passwords were online banking with 54 percent, email 44 percent and social media 24 percent.

The list of the top three most important applications was almost identical: 53 percent for online banking, 43 percent for email and 21 percent for social media sites.

Consumers believe that online shopping and payment applications require strong passwords, but they don’t put the same value on these sites.

Twenty-nine percent of the respondents considered online shopping to be a personally important service, although over a third or 38 percent felt it warranted a strong password.

Another 29 percent agreed that online payment systems need a strong password, with slightly fewer or 23 percent regarding these services as personally valuable.

More alarming is that although consumers agree that online financial transactions require a strong password, over a quarter or 29 percent thinks there is no need to have additional protection for their personal credentials when using the service.

They expect the brands they shop to protect them.

Putting personal information is a greater risk, where a third or 33 percent of Internet users admitted to freely sharing passwords with family members.

Forty-four percent said they shared passwords and left them visible to others. One in ten or 11 percent shares passwords with friends and six percent with colleagues.

Over a third or 38 percent of consumers use a single email address for all their Internet needs, which made sharing the password with others potentially disastrous.

Should the password get into the wrong hands, all information stored in the email address could be unlocked.

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 synchronizing them with all devices.

The product remembers and generates strong passwords and has auto-logging capabilities for safer access to valuable applications, accounts and websites.

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