One in five Internet users assumes their passwords are of no value to cyber criminals, according to a survey. However, passwords are the keys to the account holders’ personal data, private lives, and even their money – and if they are stolen the consequences can affect not only individual users, but also their contacts, warned a study conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International.
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 an online store gives cybercriminals an opportunity to harvest financial data and spend other people’s money. However, only half (52 percent) of respondents named passwords among the valuable information that they would not want to see in the hands of cybercriminals, while 21 percent of that surveyed saw no inherent value in their passwords for criminals.
The survey shows that users often take the easy way out when creating and storing their passwords. Only 26 percent of users create a separate password for each account while six percent of respondents use special password storage software. However, 18 percent of those surveyed write down their passwords in a notebook, 11 percent store them in a file on the device, and 10 percent leave them on a sticker near the computer. At the same time 17 percent of users freely share their personal account passwords with family members and friends.
Meanwhile, statistics show that password theft is a common occurrence. In 2014, according to Kaspersky Security Network figures, Kaspersky Lab products protected 3.5 million people from malicious attacks which were capable of stealing usernames and passwords to accounts of various types. 14 percent of respondents from 23 countries also reported that their accounts had been hacked during the year.
“Even if you are not a celebrity or a billionaire, cybercriminals can profit from your credentials”, says Elena Kharchenko, Head of Consumer Product Management, Kaspersky Lab. “A password is like a key to your home; you wouldn’t leave your door on the latch, or put your keys where anyone could find them, just because you don’t think you have anything of great value. Complex passwords unique to each account, carefully stored in a safe place, will save you a lot of trouble.”
To protect your account against unauthorized entry, you should follow a few simple rules like, create a unique password for each account so, if one of them is stolen, the rest will remain safe. Also, create a complex password that won’t be easy to crack even using special programs. An ideal password should contain at least eight symbols including upper and lower-case letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and no pet names or dates of birth.