UK business and consumers are still failing to take security seriously, according to research.
A survey conducted for RSA Security has found that nearly four out of five people easily give up enough information - such as their date of birth and name of their spouse - for their identity to be stolen.
One third share passwords with family and friends, yet 57 per cent of all those questioned considered the protection of online identities to be the responsibility of the companies that run websites.
The survey also found that people were lazy about choosing passwords. Some 34 per cent used their spouse's name, 14 per cent used their birthday and 11 per cent used their pet's name.
And 66 per cent admitted to using the same ID and password on multiple sites, making a hacker's task easier.
"I think the public don't understand identity theft," said John Madelin, business development manager of RSA Security.
"There is no central agency that stores all our details, they are spread over many sites. This is all part of the information society and education on all levels is required. Old-style identity thieves had to follow a paper trail; now it's all electronic."
A separate survey conducted for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) found that employee abuse of the internet has doubled over the last two years.
But despite this, companies are reducing the control they have over their employees' web browsing.
Two years ago 57 per cent of firms blocked emails, but this has fallen to just 16 per cent. In addition, monitoring and blocking of websites has nearly halved, while nearly a third of all businesses have no restrictions at all.
"There are two possible interpretations of this," said Chris Potter, the partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers who carried out the DTI survey.
He said either companies are cutting back on monitoring or companies that are new to the internet are not putting controls in place.
"To some extent it's a cultural thing; for some a tight straightjacket is appropriate but in others restricted access can harm business," he added.
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