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Survey Finds Digital Convenience is Causing Lax Security Habits

According to a recently released study from IBM, around 82 percent of us use the same login credentials for multiple online accounts. While this will be unsurprising to many – given the majority are probably guilty of it – it’s nonetheless a concerning statistic.  

With more of us than ever now moving our lives online, it’s no surprise to learn that the average person created 15 new online accounts in the last year alone, with many of these sharing the same passwords. The reason this is so problematic is simple: it would take only one stolen password for cybercriminals to gain access to multiple accounts.
The survey quizzed more than 20,000 people across the globe, meaning the insights contained within extend to most of the world’s population. Below, we take a look at what this means for internet safety and password usage moving forward.

Account overload = password fatigue

One of the key findings of the report was that password fatigue is leading to bad security habits among users. Password fatigue typically occurs when we have too many different logins to remember. This causes stress and frustration and can lead to us cutting corners when it comes to creating passwords for new accounts. This means that reusing old passwords or variations on the same password becomes increasingly common, even when users know this is less than ideal. As we mentioned above, 82 percent admit to this behavior, meaning many of the accounts made within the last year are relying on reused email and password combinations to log in. This makes them more vulnerable to data breaches, with even historic attacks having the potential to reveal sensitive information that could allow hackers to gain access.    

Convenience > security and privacy

Even more concerning, the study suggests internet users are placing more of an emphasis on convenience than security and privacy. This is demonstrated by their choice to reuse passwords, despite the fact many understand the risks this poses. Similarly, over half of millennials said they would prefer to place an order digitally rather than collect it from a physical location even if there were concerns surrounding the security or privacy of a particular app or website. This means that many aren’t sufficiently vetting the eCommerce sites they buy from and are putting themselves at risk online as a result.    

Paving the way for alternative login methods

While the results of this study are undoubtedly concerning, they do raise questions as to how online retailers can address these issues. Of those surveyed, 75 percent said they’d be willing to use digital credentials if these became commonly accepted, for example. The numbers also provide a strong use case for alternative authentication methods like passwordless login. This term refers to any type of identity verification that doesn’t require a password and can include everything from biometrics to email magic links, security keys, and specialized apps. This type of tech is almost impossible to hack, making it much safer than traditional alternatives.
As 2021 draws to a close, it’s becoming clear that the world around us has changed fundamentally. We’re more reliant on technology now than we’ve ever been before, and while this has its upsides, it also comes with certain challenges. Most pertinent among them is staying safe online, and it’s something lots of us struggle with.
This research only highlights this fact, but it doesn’t merely flag up issues – it also suggests some obvious ways to keep ourselves safe moving forward, with passwordless authentication being a natural solution. Isn’t it time you introduced this to your business and started taking customer safety seriously?

Stanley Gatero is a writer at Disrupt Magazine. He covers topics concerning technology, entrepreneurship, news, and sports. He is an avid traveler.

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