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123456 is not a good password

Losing your password to a cybercriminal can have serious consequences, so F-Secure encourages spending a few minutes on learning a system for unique passwords.

Helsinki, Finland – June 16, 2010: Passwords are valuable information and when they fall in the wrong hands, the end result can be a personal and financial disaster. Many people have established secure password habits but a surprisingly large number still rely on just one password for all their needs.

According to a survey commissioned by F-Secure*, about 20% of Internet users in Germany, Sweden and the UK use the same passwords for everything – from credit cards to online banking to logging into their e-mail account or a game website. About 20% write their password on a piece of paper, while 8% have to reset their passwords frequently because they forget them so easily.

Another F-Secure survey conducted in seven countries** reveals that, on average, only about 50% of mobile phone users protect their phones with a password. According to the survey, Germans are the most security conscious with 68% locking their phones with passwords, while the British (27%) and Americans (13%) lag far behind in terms of safe mobile phone use.

Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure, says, “With so many logins to deal with these days, it is tempting to use just one or two passwords for everything. Unfortunately it is also a recipe for disaster because there is a whole industry of cybercriminals constantly devising new ways to steal passwords and exploiting them to the full.”

Bogus e-mails asking for confirmation of user names and passwords have long been used by criminals to dupe people into revealing their banking details and other personal information. The rapid growth of Facebook has also made it an attractive target for criminal scams designed to steal passwords. By compromising Facebook accounts, criminals hope to access people’s e-mail accounts, opening up a wealth of other confidential information. People using the same password for everything have the most to lose.

Sean Sullivan says, “Never use information that you reveal on Facebook for your passwords, such as your birthday, name or pet names. I urge everyone to take a few minutes to learn a system that creates unique passwords. This is especially critical for any online services where personal information is available about you.”

Mixing letters and numbers is a good idea for a more secure password. But is it feasible to remember a unique password for every website we visit? One simple way for making strong passwords is described on F-Secure’s Safe and Savvy blog.

Using strong passwords, deleting confidential e-mails and being aware of criminal schemes are good online habits we can all practice. In addition, it’s a good idea to have one e-mail account for “business” transactions such as banking and another one for signing up to various web services such as Facebook or your favorite news portal. It also helps to have security software that blocks the virus attacks trying to infect your computer. F-Secure Internet Security 2010 gives comprehensive protection against all the malware that the bad guys throw at you.

F-Secure – Protecting the irreplaceable
While you concentrate on what is important to you, we make sure you are protected and safe online whether you are using a computer or a smartphone. We also backup and enable you to share your important files. Our services are available through over 200 operators around the world and trusted in millions of homes and businesses. Founded in 1988, F-Secure is listed on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki Ltd.
f-secure.com | twitter.com/fsecure | facebook.com/f-secure

*The survey was conducted by Gfk as a CAWI survey (Computer Assisted Web Survey) among online panellists invited to participate in the survey by email. 1 505 interviews were conducted in the UK, 1 500 in Sweden and 1 509 in Germany in week 14 – week 15 (April), 2010.

** The survey was carried out by independent third party Zoomerang in May 2010 across 1439 Internet users in the United States, Germany, UK, Finland, Sweden, Poland and Malaysia. There were approximately 200 persons surveyed per country.

Media contact
Hetta Huittinen
Tel. +358 40 033 9597
E-mail: firstname.lastname@f-secure.com