Millions of Brits leave personal data exposed because they don’t know their own passwords

Nearly two thirds of UK adults rely on ‘auto-fill’ to complete the login process for some or all websites and 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.

That’s according to a survey conducted by antimalware and mobile security company BullGuard. 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.

“The results show that a great number of people are taking risks with sensitive data, largely for the sake of convenience”, said Cam Le, Chief Marketing Officer at BullGuard. “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.

Three in five 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 per cent of Brits stay signed-in to their email accounts permanently, despite the private and sensitive information 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.

The typical Brit has approximately six different passwords and seven in ten struggle 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.

Eight in ten 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.”

On why they find it difficult to remember passwords, over half of respondents blamed websites which force them to use “strange characters” or numbers.

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 three in ten 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 a fifth 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.”

Top 10 sites for storing bank card details

1. Amazon – 64.13 per cent
2. PayPal – 32.90 per cent
3. eBay – 21.19 per cent
4. Tesco – 10.78 per cent
5. Argos – 9.85 per cent
6. Marks & Spencer – 9.48 per cent
7. Apple – 7.62 per cent
8. Rakuten – 6.88 per cent
9. Asda – 6.69 per cent
10. NetFlix – 6.69 per cent

Top 10 sites for storing login details including passwords

1. Facebook – 60.12 per cent
2. Email provider (Hotmail, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc) – 35.28 per cent
3. Amazon – 33.97 per cent
4. Twitter – 26.69 per cent
5. eBay – 20.25 per cent
6. Instagram – 13.88 per cent
7. PayPal – 13.57 per cent
8. Google+ – 11.89 per cent
9. Pinterest – 9.13 per cent
10. Linked-In – 9.05 per cent

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