Poor Password Practices, Lack of Anti Virus on Phones continue to Affect consumers: Bitdefender Survey

Poor password practices are still prevalent and a lack of cyber security protection software continue to affect consumers. Around 50 per cent surveyed said they use a single password for all online accounts, and nearly one-third (32 per cent) use just a few passwords and reuse them across multiple accounts. These findings were released by Bitdefender- a global cyber security firm.

According to the 2021 Bitdefender Global Report: Cybersecurity and Online Behaviors, which reveals how consumers across various age groups and socio-demographic backgrounds behave on popular platforms, applications and devices, affecting cybersecurity risk, 27 per cent of respondents use simple passwords such as 1234 to lock their mobile phones and 11 per cent do not lock their mobile phones at all.

The report, based on a survey that polled more than 10,000 consumer internet users across 11 countries, examines the use of popular online platforms and services, personal cybersecurity practices, level of exposure to threats and more. Many don’t use cybersecurity protection software on mobile phones. The use of simple passwords is most common among 18 to 44 year-olds, and males self-reported using simple passwords more than females (31 per cent, compared to 23 per cent).

Surprisingly, nearly 35 per cent say they do not use antivirus on their mobile phones. The most common reasons cited for this were: 30 per cent believe mobile phones do not need it, 22 per cent feel it is too expensive, and 16 per cent think security is built in. Additionally, an average of 41 per cent do not use private browsers and more than half (52 per cent) do not use a VPN.

Mobile phone scams lead the threats

A majority of respondents (61 per cent) said they have experienced as least one mobile cybersecurity threat in the last 12 months. Mobile phone scams involving unsolicited texts and calls were the most frequent threats noted in the survey at 36 per cent, followed by phishing at 23 per cent, data breaches at 12 per cent, social network impersonation at 11 per cent, financial fraud at 9 per cent and ransomware at 8per cent. Although few respondents had personally experienced financial fraud, it ranked the highest in terms of concerns, with 41 per cent stating they were very worried about the threat. The age group most concerned with overall threats were 35 to 44-year-olds, followed by those in the 25 to 34 year-old range.

Majority of consumers Highly exposed

When analyzing all respondent behaviors, from password reuse, to the number of online accounts and services, to sharing of account details and lack of security services on their devices, almost 60 per cent of consumers were deemed “exposed” or “rather exposed.” Just 11 per cent of respondents could be described as “secure” in terms of their cybersecurity practices.

Smart phones used most frequently to access online services

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents primarily access online services using a personal smartphone, with 61% of those using the Android operating system. Personal laptops came in second at 45%, followed by Smart TVs at 30% and personal desktops at 28%. Nearly a quarter (23%) report using at least one work-issued device to access personal online accounts.

Around 63 per cent of respondents reported having a social media account and 54% an online shopping account. Other top services used include video streaming at 40%, telecommunication and health platforms at 29% and utility services at 28%.

Most users understand privacy settings

A positive finding around online privacy shows most users (51%) know how to change internet browser privacy settings and 46% read through privacy policies when signing up for new accounts. However, 46% also declare they dislike choosing new passwords for each new account and 38% dislike requirements to use multi-factor authentication.

Personal identification Details Shared

Personal identification details, including name, birthdate and even physical address are commonly shared online, with males being more likely to share their details than females. Gender is the most common detail shared with 54% of respondents always or almost always sharing, followed by name (43%), personal email address and birthdate (40%) and physical address (29%). Young adults between ages 18-24 are more likely to share their personal information than other age groups.

Age and gender influence digital platform behaviours

With an average of eight online platforms used per respondent, there were key differences across age groups and gender when it comes to the top three platforms used (Facebook, WhatsApp and Gmail). At 51%, female usage on Facebook is higher than males at 42%. The 35-44 age group is 21% more likely to use WhatsApp compared to 18 to 22 year-olds who also are 26% less likely to use Gmail compared to those 55-65.

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