New data reveals bad habits leave Brits open to hacking online, despite feeling more vulnerable during the pandemic

2 June 2020

Key findings include:

  • 1 in 4 Brits (26%) feel more vulnerable to hackers because of the Coronavirus crisis 
  • 71% believe the need to authenticate identity online is more important now than ever before, and an overwhelming majority (88%) believe online security threats are growing
  • However, only 48% of Brits admit they regularly change their online password and just 28% do this once a year or more
  • A third (33%) admitted to only changing passwords when forced to by online brands and services, and just 8% of Brits use the strong password generator provided
  • 1 in 10 (10%) Brits use the exact same password for everything

LONDON — 2 June, 2020 —  New data from biometric authentication provider, iProov, reveals that despite 26% of Brits feeling more vulnerable to online hackers due to the threat of COVID-19, many still have concerning habits that compromise the safety of their data and online accounts.

The research, which polled UK consumers, also reveals that 71% believe the need to authenticate online identity is more important now than ever before. And even though the large majority (89%) admit to caring about their own data privacy, and 88% believe online security threats are indeed growing, this is not translating into good practice when it comes to passwords and online security.

The Problem with Passwords

Less than half of British people (48%) proactively change their passwords for security purposes, and just a third (33%) of these admit to only changing their passwords when they had been forgotten or because they were prompted to by the website or app. In addition, just over a quarter of Brits (28%) change their passwords proactively more than once a year, demonstrating a real need for further education on the synergies between weak passwords and cyber-attacks, particularly in the current climate.  

This reveals a significant reliance on brands, services and providers to remind consumers when to regularly update and change passwords, and a real need for education on the frequency that passwords should be changed.

Using Safe and Secure Passwords

Interestingly, the research also reveals just 8% of Brits use the suggested recommended password that is randomly provided by an increasing number of websites. Whilst strong password generators are intended to improve password security , the data reveals a small proportion of the UK actually use these. 

Whilst most Brits rotate a handful of passwords across sites, a small minority use the exact same password for every log in, which poses huge security risks:

  • 39% use a different password for every site
  • 49% use a few passwords on rotation
  • 10% use the same password for everything

Sharing Isn’t Always Caring

When it comes to password security, the government advice is to not share passwords with anyone else in order to minimise the risks. However, according to the data, Brits are divided in following this advice, despite growing concerns due to COVID-19.

Almost half (49%) of respondents admitted to accessing someone else’s online account using their password, whilst 41% share their phone passwords with family members. What’s also concerning is that 17% of Brits have even used a photo or video of someone else in an attempt to access their accounts using facial recognition.

Andrew Bud, CEO at iProov, said: “Our research shows that passwords have simply outlived their utility. Enforcing ever more complex passwords tortures people into workarounds. People misuse things that aren't usable. It's a gift to hackers and it disrupts commerce. We need to make it easier for people to access services and keep their data secure.

"People are recycling and sharing passwords but this leaves them exposed and vulnerable.The time has come to adopt alternatives. Good biometric authentication combines effortless usability with the security to safeguard society’s most sensitive personal data.”

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