New research by Kaspersky Lab shows that in the last 12 months, 25 per cent of Internet users had at least one of their online accounts hacked. Despite this figure, another study shows just 38 per cent of consumers create strong passwords for every account and 57 per cent store passwords insecurely.
In a statement, the security company said in addition to the number whose own accounts had been hacked, a third (32 per cent) of respondents know of someone whose account has been hacked. The kind of accounts targeted by hackers include email (11 per cent), social media networks (11 per cent), and online banking or shopping accounts (7 per cent), sites that many consumers use on a daily basis and that keep them in touch with work and their closest friends and family.
The survey found that it’s not just bank balances but relationships that can be damaged by hackers. Thirty-five per cent of those affected by hacking discovered that messages or updates had been sent from or posted on their accounts without their permission, and 29 per cent learned that friends had clicked on a malicious link in a message that apparently came from them.
Personal data and identities are a top target for hackers. Twenty-six per cent of those affected lost personal details and data following a successful hit; and in 26 per cent of cases data was stolen and later used in criminal activity such as unauthorised transactions. In fact, 36 per cent of all respondents had encountered some kind of identity threat over the previous 12 months, most involving an unsolicited message and a request for personal information, passwords and other credentials.
However, Kaspersky Lab’s ‘cyber-savvy’ quiz found only 38 per cent of users made a point of creating a strong new password for every account they set up. Further, more than half (57 per cent) stored their passwords in insecure places. This included writing them down on paper or saving them in a mobile phone.
Kasperksy Lab head of consumer product management, Elena Kharchenko, said, “Hackers are after your details, contacts and funds, so failing to set strong passwords for the accounts you entrust with such information is a bit like locking the door and then leaving the key in.
"Passwords are the digital ‘you’: and your accounts rely on them to ensure it’s really you they are giving access to. There is simply too much at stake for anyone to be casual about passwords. The words, “I didn’t send that, my account was hacked” is unlikely to sound convincing to a distressed friend or co-worker at the receiving end of malware or a request for money. Some simple security steps and a robust approach t opasswords will remove the risk.”
Kaspersky Lab said it appreciated the temptation to create and re-use a small number of memorable passwords is underpinned by fear of forgetting them. It recommended users invest in a security solution that allows them to safely store and retrieve even the most complex passwords, keeping them far from the hands of the hackers.
Its consumer solution, Kaspersky Total Security – Multi-Device includes a special Kaspersky Password Manager module that enables users to securely store all their passwords and identity forms and to synchronize them between devices. Users can then automatically log-on to a website with a single, safe, click.
The survey was conducted with B2B International .