Brits forget passwords & leave personal data exposed

22nd April 2016
Nat Bowers

Nearly two thirds of adults in the UK rely on autofill to complete the login process for some or all websites, according to a survey conducted by antimalware and mobile security company BullGuard. The survey also showed that a third login automatically and store their bank card details to shopping sites such as eBay and Amazon – making them vulnerable to substantial financial losses.

With nearly half of Brits primarily accessing these sites on their phone, the loss of their handset could prove disastrous.

BullGuard commissioned the study exploring the login preferences of 2,000 UK adults when browsing the web on a phone or tablet.

Cam Le, Chief Marketing Officer, BullGuard, commented: "The results show that a great number of people are taking risks with sensitive data, largely for the sake of convenience. We save login and payment card details often without a second thought, but with that comes the risk of what could happen should our mobiles or tablets fall into the wrong hands. It’s always important to make it is as difficult as possible for criminals to access personal and financial details, and that includes those stored on personal devices.”

Less than half of people taking part in the survey have set up a pass code for their phone or tablet, meaning anyone who gets their hands on the device can access its contents freely.

60% of respondents leave themselves open to cybercrime by staying logged in to social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter, which could contain private information that could be used for cyber theft or fraud.

58% of Brits stay signed-in to their email accounts permanently, despite the private and sensitive information being potentially accessible.

Nearly two thirds of people store their credit or debit card details on Amazon, over a fifth do the same for eBay and a third also save their card details on online payment service, PayPal. Furthermore, over a fifth of respondents stay permanently logged-in to the payment service.

According to the survey, a typical Brit has approximately six different passwords with 70% struggling to remember them. In fact, Brits have to request a new password every other month on average because they keep forgetting them, while a third of respondents resort to writing their passwords down.

80% of those polled said they use the autofill option “purely for speed and convenience” while half say it’s “annoying to continually type passwords in.”

Over a third of UK adults struggle because they try to have a different password for each website they log in to. In addition to the wealth of private and financial information potentially available to opportunistic thieves, the device itself isn’t cheap (being worth £194.09 on average). Despite this, little more than 30% of people have insured their phone or tablet.

Less than a quarter of those surveyed have activated the 'find my phone/tablet' function enabling them to track their device if lost or stolen, while just 20% of respondents have installed security software on their phone. However, BullGuard believes there is a compromise to be found.

“It’s understandable, given the sheer number of often quite complicated passwords we have to deal with, to need a helping hand,” Cam Le continued. “In light of these results we’d advise people to be more selective with the websites that have login details pre-stored. Anything that includes financial details for quick transactions or allows access to them - such as Amazon, Paypal and eBay, the top three in our list - should be something you commit to memory. Sites that don’t reveal any potentially sensitive data are lower risk. Hopefully with this middle ground, people can enjoy a comfortable and safe environment online.”

The infographic below highlights some of the key trends from the survey as well as providing more detailed information regarding which sites Brits store their data, passwords and card details with.

BullGuard Infographic

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