South Africans underestimate password value

One in five South African Internet users assume their passwords are of no value to cyber-criminals, according to a survey conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International.

However, passwords are the keys to account holders’ personal data, private lives, and even their money.

If passwords are stolen, the consequences can affect not only individual users but also their contacts, warned Kaspersky Lab.

For example, a compromised e-mail gives scammers access to every account that the user has connected to it, thanks to the messages it receives notifying of successful registrations or responses to password recovery requests.

In turn, a compromised account on a social networking site makes it possible to spread spam advertising and malicious links.

A password to an account with online store gives cyber-criminals an opportunity to harvest financial data and spend other people’s money.

Less than half (43%) of respondents in SA named passwords among valuable information they would not want to see in the hands of cyber-criminals, while 20% of those surveyed saw no value in their passwords for criminals.

The survey shows that users often take the easy way out when creating and storing their passwords.

Only 24% of users create a separate password for each account, while 4% of respondents use special password storage software.

18% of those surveyed write down their passwords in a notebook, 14% store them in a file on the device, and 5% leave them on a sticker near the computer.

19% of users share their personal account passwords with family members and friends.

How to protect your passwords

To protect your account against unauthorised entry, you should follow a few rules:

  • Create a unique password for each account: if one of them is stolen, the rest will remain safe.
  • Create a complex password that won’t be easy to crack even using special programmes. That means at least 8 symbols including upper and lower-case letters, numbers, punctuation marks – no pet names or dates of birth.
  • Do not give your password to anyone, not even your friends. If cyber-criminals can’t steal it from your device, they might be able do it from someone else’s.
  • Store your password in a safe place. Don’t write it down on paper; either remember it or use a special programme for storing passwords from a reliable vendor

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South Africans underestimate password value