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Survey finds easy passwords 'common'

25 October 2012, 09:30

Cape Town - A global survey has found that more than a third of computer users have weak passwords that may leave them vulnerable to being attacked online.

Research conducted by O+K Research for Kaspersky Lab in 25 countries found that 34% of users made use of passwords that were too easy to guess.

Many used a date of birth (17%) a name (10%), or a pet's name (9%) as their password. In SA, 13% used their pet's name as a password, the survey showed.

Some used simple passwords like "123456" or even the word "password", the survey found.

Fraudsters are actively engaged in trying to steal identities and the online arena has proved to be lucrative for criminals to use stolen identities to commit unlawful acts and leave the victim with the responsibility to prove their innocence.

"A brute-forced or stolen password can give access to a user's every last detail - starting with personal photos and finishing with credit card details. Therefore complex passwords to access online services are critical," Kaspersky said.


All communication technologies that can identify users should be well-protected to prevent thieves from accessing users' details and committing crimes.

"We all have smartphones now and do we use it for work? Of course. All our correspondence - e-mails, passwords are stored on our mobile phones. It can be hacked or stolen - it isn't protected well. It's important to think about security of all these new technologies," Sergey Novikov, head of Kaspersky Lab Global Research and Analysis Team told News24.

Strong passwords include using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. It is also important to change passwords regularly to exercise better security.

In the US, the FBI disrupted an international cyber fraud operation by seizing the servers that had infected as many as two million computers with malicious software in 2011.

"Some of the most critical threats facing our nation today emanate from the cyber realm. We've got hackers out to take our personal information and money, spies who want to steal our nation's secrets, and terrorists who are looking for novel ways to attack our critical infrastructure," said Shawn Henry, FBI executive assistant director in 2011.

- News24


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