20% in SA think passwords have no value

Cape Town - A significant percentage of South Africans are not aware of the value of their personal information such as passwords, a survey has found.

According to a survey by security firm Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, 20% of South Africans see no value in their passwords.

"A password to an account with an online store gives cyber criminals an opportunity to harvest financial data and spend other people's money. However, less than half (43%) of respondents in South Africa named passwords among the valuable information that they would not want to see in the hands of cyber criminals, while 20% of those surveyed locally saw no inherent value in their passwords for criminals," Kaspersky said.

The survey is further evidence that computer users don't take effective precautions against cyber criminals who are determined to steal personal and financial data.

The 2014 Trustwave Global Security Report found that weak passwords contributed to 31% of intrusions the company investigated in 2013.

Clickbait tools

The most commonly used password was "123456", followed by "123456789", "1234" and "password".

"It is a very big problem, and I'll tell you why: People are lazy. So if your company policy says to you that you've got to use a minimum of eight characters… users themselves, because they work for the company, they don't really care," Andrew Kirkland, Trustwave regional director for Africa previously told Fin24.

Kaspersky said that 19% of South Africans have had the accounts hacked in the past year.

Criminals use social engineering tricks to get people to click on malicious links sent via email or social networks.

A recent News24 survey revealed that at least 5% of people click on suspicious links sent to them, with 2% saying that they lost a significant amount of money.

Criminals employ many of the same tools as unscrupulous internet marketers who use 'clickbait' methods to get people to click on links.


In a Ted Talk, Sally Kohn, CEO of the Movement Vision Lab, a think tank said that part of the solution to the problem of click bait lies with internet users.

"We all say we hate this crap, but the question whether you're willing to make a sacrifice to change it. I don't mean giving up the internet, but changing the way you click because clicking is a public act."

Sensitive information such as passwords, banking log-on details and usernames and credit card details are the most valuable commodities that cyber criminals look to acquire.

"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," said Peter Aleshkin, consumer marketing group manager for Emerging Markets at  Kaspersky Lab.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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