More care needed with passwords, research reveals

Adults in the UK are risking their online security by using identical or easy to remember passwords on the websites they visit.

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This has been revealed in new research by Ofcom, the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting,telecommunications and postal industries.

55% of adult internet users admit they use the same password for most, if not all, websites, says the authority's Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2013. 26% say they tend to use easy to remember passwords such as names or birthdays – potentially exposing themselves to the threat of account hacking. 25% admit thaat they have problems in remembering passwords.

The research does reveal positive news, however. It suggests that adult internet users are increasingly adopting security methods to protect themselves whilst online. 62% say they protect their WiFi internet connection (up from 52% in 2011) and 61% say they take care to check for padlock symbols or secure system messages before entering personal details. This figure compares to 56% in 2011.

The research also covers smartphone owners, 75% of whom say they use a screen lock, with 50% stating they have PIN protection for their SIM card. For non-smartphone users, the figures fell to 40% and 20% respectively.

Ofcom Director of Research James Thickett said: “While our research shows that some people are still taking security risks online, they clearly feel these are outweighed by the benefits that the internet brings. We are seeing more and more adults turning to the internet for information and as a way of keeping in touch.”


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