Poor password security is putting millions of UK web users at risk from account hacking, according to new research from Ofcom, despite people spending more time online than ever before.
The Adult media use and attitudes report 2013 from the communications watchdog found over half, 55 percent, use the same password for almost all websites, while a quarter, 26 percent, use obvious details such as names or birthdays for account details.
Other security risks remain prevalent too, with incidents of spam (52 percent), viruses (25 percent) and phishing emails (26 percent) remaining steady since 2011.
However, while password security remains basic, web users are becoming increasingly savvy about other ways to remain safe online, with 62 percent now placing passwords on their Wi-Fi connections, up from 52 percent in 2011.
Meanwhile, smartphone security is stronger still, with three-quarter of users placing a screen lock on the device. Clearly those with high-end devices such as iPhones and Galaxy devices from Samsung care more about security as for non-smartphone users only 40 percent use any screen passwords.
Ofcom’s research also found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the amount of time UK adults are spending online is growing all the time. Now, the average users are on the web for 17 hours a week, up from 15 hours in 2011.
Despite this the average number of websites visited is just five per week for one fifth of web users, 22 percent, while men visit more sites than women, by an average of 24 to 14.
“While our research shows that some people are still taking security risks online, they clearly feel these are outweighed by the benefits that the internet brings,said James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research.
“We are seeing more and more adults turning to the internet for information and as a way of keeping in touch.”
The issue of password security hit the headlines in a big way last summer when several major consumer websites were all breached and had details stolen. V3 put together a guide to better password security as a result, to help give some guidance on the best ways to remain safe online.
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