It’s one of the simplest data security mistakes to avoid, but latest research from Mintel reveals more than two in five (44%) Brits use the same password for multiple accounts. And it seems that young Brits are the nation’s worst culprits as three in five (60%) 16-24s use the same password across a variety of accounts. Highlighting the importance of convenience for today’s young, when it comes to login, 16-24s are the most likely to opt for convenience rather than thinking about the most secure method (53% of 16-24s compared to 47% of Brits overall).
And it seems the nation’s lax password security does not stop here as, according to Mintel, the majority of consumers do not willingly update even their most important passwords, with 54% stating they only do so when prompted, and 15% saying they do not change important passwords at all.
When it comes to remembering passwords, most Brits (60%) rely on their memory. Meanwhile, one in four (25%) rely on a physical note and just under one in five (17%) use autofill on the web browser. While women (63%) are more likely to rely on memory to recall passwords than men (58%), men are more likely to use the convenience of technology. Nearly a fifth (19%) of men use the autofill on the web browser compared to 15% of women, while 14% of men use a password manager, compared to just 6% of women.
Overall, two in five (41%) Brits say they find it difficult to keep track of online security across their connected devices.
Adrian Reynolds, Senior Technology Analyst at Mintel said: “The fact that so many Brits rely on their memory when it comes to passwords is reflected by the high number of consumers who use the same password for multiple accounts. There is a clear trade-off between security and convenience for many, but using the same or similar passwords for multiple accounts removes the need for keeping physical or digital notes that could be hacked.”
“A multitude of social media accounts and apps across a wide range of devices is driving young consumers to prioritise login convenience over security. The convenience factor is providing strong growth opportunities for the biometric market. Smartphone manufacturers are increasingly using it to unlock phones, while developers are using the technology to make apps and mobile payments more secure. Fingerprint scanning and facial recognition will increasingly be utilised in other devices such as laptops to boost security without compromising convenience.”
Financial accounts top Brits’ security concerns
When it comes to concerns over online security (including hacking and theft), Brits are most worried about their financial accounts, as nearly three in five (57%) include these in their top three biggest concerns. Just over a third (35%) include email accounts in the top three accounts they are concerned about being hacked and one in five (22%) include social media accounts, rising to a third (32%) of 16-24-year-olds.
When it comes to verification methods, nearly two in five consumers (38%) would prefer to use two-factor authentication (using a verification code in addition to passwords) to access their financial accounts; this compares to 28% who prefer to use just passwords.
The additional security desired for financial accounts is highlighted by the number of Brits preferring to use just passwords to log into other accounts. More than half of Brits are happy to use passwords for retail accounts (54%), email accounts (54%) and social media (57%).
Around half (52%) of all Brits are concerned that online accounts which are out of their control (such as medical records) will be hacked.
“While there is widespread concern over personal accounts being hacked or information stolen online, there are measures consumers can take to minimise the threat. However, when it comes to accounts controlled by other organisations, such as medical records, there are fewer safety measures individuals can take. Even though organisations like the NHS are not at risk of consumers stopping to pay for their services as a result of security concerns, it is still in their interests to maintain a positive public image.” Adrian adds.
Brits feel most secure sharing data on laptops and desktops
Antivirus software is the most common online security measure consumers take, with 46% saying they have used it on their laptop in the last year. Despite the growing range of tasks carried out on increasingly sophisticated smartphones, just 26% say they have used antivirus software on their smartphones or tablets in the last year.
While usage of antivirus software for smartphones is low, just 21% of Brits believe the smartphone is a secure device when it comes to protecting online data. There is a clear age divide when it comes to how secure Brits feel when sharing data on a smartphone. Some 39% of those aged 16-24 include smartphones in their top three most secure devices, compared to just 9% of those aged 55 and over.
“Until relatively recently, the majority of security software has focused on websites and computers. Antivirus was sold solely for computers for years and only recently has included additional cover for smartphones and tablets; however, many consumers aren’t aware of this and, thus, don’t use it. HTTPS signals to consumers that websites are secure with the green padlock in the address bar. While this is sometimes available via mobile phones, a huge proportion of mobile use is via apps, so such security warnings do not exist,” concludes Adrian.