Security Study Confirms We're Taking Risks Online

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Tired of having to memorize several user names and passwords for every secure website you visit? Don't be. A recent study confirms what IT security experts have been saying all along--it is wiser to have different user names and passwords to protect identities and information not meant to be public.

A week-long experiment by IT security solutions company BitDefender reveals that some people use the same user name and password in logging into several secure websites. The experiment also revealed that some 250,000 e-mail addresses, user names and passwords were found in social and open networks, including blogs, collaboration platforms, torrents, and other channels.

Some 87 percent of the information discovered are still valid and can be used to access accounts using information found elsewhere on the Internet. Moreover, the study revealed that 75 percent of users use the same user name and password to access both their e-mail accounts and their social networking accounts.

BitDefender, which develops certified security software, said some users of social networks may not be aware that they are exposing such information.

"Finding such an incredible amount of sensitive data just several clicks away via search engines is more than scary. The alarming results of this experiment should make users aware that adding a password to an e-mail or social networking account should be as serious as adding a high quality lock to their houses," said Sabina Datcu, BitDefender e-threat analyst and author of the experiment.

Datcu warns that exposing such information can make the unwitting user prone to attacks on the Internet, including malware, spamming and data theft.

"Imagine someone accessing your social networking account and selling all the virtual commodities you own in a social game or posting pornographic content on your behalf, for instance. Or even worse--think that an e-criminal can hijack your e-mail account and pretend he or she is you. So be very careful how you choose your password and what you do with it," Datcu concludes.

This story, "Security Study Confirms We're Taking Risks Online" was originally published by MIS Asia.

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