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Simple passwords 'could put online banking security at risk'
Published 1 February 2012 by Lucy Bower
Setting simple passwords or writing them down and not keeping them safe is putting many people's online security at risk - and that includes online banking.
A new study by esure home insurance indicates that while we may be watching our pennies, not many of us are watching our passwords. This leaves us open to online snoopers, or worse, of our online bank accounts and emails.
According to the survey, one in five (20%) of Brits use the same password for all sorts of different accounts, including email, shopping and online banking. A fifth (20%) use our mother's maiden name, even though 15% admit knowing it would be easy for a stranger to access that information.
When you consider that the average person is asked for some sort of password up to 11 times every day, it's understandable that most of us need some sort of memory short-cut. It's easier to remember one password than many.
However, it does place you in a more vulnerable situation in terms of online privacy and even identity theft, because if every one of your online accounts has the same password, so much more of your information is easily accessible.
It seems that you're not even safe from the prying eyes of your own partner, as one in ten Brits admitted they had snooped on their partner's online accounts at some point.
How not to keep your password a secret
You are more vulnerable to someone hacking into your online accounts if you make any of the following mistakes:
- Keep all of your security passwords in one place - 24% of us do this.
- Use an obvious password like you mother's maiden name (20%) or birthday (14%).
- Use a simple combination of numbers such as '1234' (10%).
- Don't destroy the written confirmation of a new PIN (17%).
It is difficult to remember lots of different passwords, PINs and usernames for all the different accounts you may deal with on a day-to-day basis. Around half of us say we keep our passwords written on bits of paper, or stored in our phones or computers. The 14% who say they carry passwords around with them are at greater risk than the 27% who keep them at home.
If you take measures to keep your passwords secret and safe, you can also protect yourself from certain criminal activities by covering your PIN when you're at an ATM and regularly checking your bank statements for anything unusual.