Internet users across the globe are yet to master how to use passwords effectively to protect themselves online, and South African users are no exception.
Research from Kaspersky has shown that people are putting their online safety at risk by making bad password decisions and simple password mistakes that may have far-reaching consequences.
According to the latest Kaspersky report, only 36% of local Internet users surveyed create new passwords for different online accounts and a worrying 16% use the same password for all their online accounts.
Should one password be leaked, these people are therefore at risk of having every account hacked and exploited.
The study also shows that people are mistreating their passwords – by using insecure methods to remember them.
Almost a third of South African users (23%) admitted to writing their passwords down in a notepad to help remember them, 18% let the browsers to store password, while one-in 10 store them in a file on the computer or even write down on a piece of paper near the computer (7%).
Even if a password is strong, this leaves the user vulnerable because other people may see and use it.
“We are now living in a high-tech world where IDs are no longer physical materials, but logical and represented by user accounts,” says Maher Yamout, senior security researcher at Kaspersky.
“These user accounts are protected with passwords; passwords where consumers use them to manage online accounts for everything from mobile banking, online shopping, checking the weather or booking a taxi. So they should be taking better care to protect themselves with effective password security as these passwords represent their IDs.
“This seems obvious, but many might not realise that they are falling into the trap of making simple password management mistakes. These mistakes, in turn, are effectively like leaving the front door open to emails, bank accounts, personal files and more.”