New survey claims majority of users prefer reusing passwords risking self, workplace security online

A new survey conducted by IBM Security warns of the rising negligence of online security as users increase digital activities during the pandemic.

(Image for representation: Reuters) (Image for representation: Reuters)
Story highlights
  • Around 82% of 22,000 individuals globally admitted to reusing emails and password for different online accounts.
  • The lax approach stemmed from increasing online accounts due to the remote work during the pandemic.
  • The survey warns that such negligence by individuals can also cause major harm to companies.

A new cybersecurity report highlights the surge in password fatigue resulting from an increase in online accounts people had to create due to the pandemic. The survey warns that around 82 per cent of online account holders reuse their credentials across accounts.

The observation has been recorded from a total of 22,000 individuals in 22 markets globally. Conducted by IBM Security, the survey highlights that with an increase in digitisation, people prefer the ease of use over safe practices on the internet. It warns of this change in digital behaviour while also making an attempt to measure its potential long-term impact on cybersecurity.

Observations from the study alert that online consumers now have a lax approach to security. One such glaring issue was found to be the reuse of account email and password combinations. The study points out that around 82 per cent of respondents admitted to "reusing credentials at least some of the time."

This means many of the accounts created online during the pandemic carry the same credentials as those of other online presence of the user. If so, all the accounts might be compromised in an attack if the credentials for any one of the accounts leak online.

The study is meant to warn users of the vulnerability, pointing out that many credentials from various online platforms have been subject to data leaks in the past decade. Reusing credentials from any one of those might cause the user further online risk.

In a note, IBM Security states that the indifference towards optimum password habits online has gemmed from the increased digitisation since last year following the pandemic. Surveyed individuals created an average of 15 new online accounts during the pandemic, while 44 per cent reported that they "do not plan to delete or deactivate these new accounts."

Handling so many accounts eventually led to people being tired of generating new passwords for them every time. The growing digital footprint is thus plagued with security loopholes that can increase the overall attack surface for cybercriminals.

As per IBM Security X-Force, these bad security habits online may also affect one's workplace and can lead to "costly security incidents for companies." Compromised user credentials were the top root sources of cyberattacks reported in 2020, it highlighted.