Online Accounts Vulnerable to Identity Theft, says Kaspersky Lab

07 Mar 2007
Press Releases

A survey released today by information security software vendor, Kaspersky Lab, shows that in the UK, we still don’t do enough to keep our personal information secure.

Abingdon, UK - 07 March 2007 - Kaspersky Lab - which surveyed 150 PC users about their password habits – found that 62 percent of PC users have up to 10 online accounts that require passwords, with 23 per cent of us having more than 20 password protected accounts. But, shockingly, more than half of us (51 per cent) use only between one and four passwords to access our accounts. Thirty per cent of PC users have between 5 and 10 passwords; and only nine per cent use 20 different passwords to access 20 different accounts. This is particularly worrying news on the day that Gartner released a report saying that identity theft has increased by 50 per cent over the last year in the US1. In the UK, identity fraud costs the UK economy £1.7 billion a year, according to Home Office statistics2. The increase in social networking sites, where large amounts of identifying personal information is stored, could make consumers who use the same password across multiple accounts extremely vulnerable to identify theft, according to David Emm, senior technology consultant, Kaspersky Lab. “Consumers freely disclose information on social networking sites, designed to be used as unique identifiers – pet name, mother’s maiden name, nickname, even car registration number. All it would take is one clever hacker or phisher to get hold of these databases and they could have access to a raft of online accounts. “Today’s threat landscape is very different from that of a few years ago. Malware is designed to remain undetected so that it can target victims individually and harvest personal information, to be used for criminal purposes. Couple this with personal information gained from a social networking site and you could have the key to credit card accounts, online bank accounts, or social security fraud.” Equally worrying is the way we choose our passwords. Common passwords given included pet’s name, child’s name, spouse’s name, car registration, date of birth, nickname and favorite song. But, it’s not all doom and gloom. The message given out by banks and financial companies seems to be taking effect – Kaspersky Lab’s survey shows that 79 per cent of us are at least using a combination of letters and numbers in our passwords. Kaspersky Lab’s own research last year showed that 26 per cent of PC users had experienced a security breach on their PC in the last 12 months. This is particularly concerning as the survey was of people who are already security ‘aware’ (and already using a security product), so the real breach figure may be far higher. Kaspersky Lab has produced a guide to phishing scams – Hook, Line and Sinker – that takes an in-depth look at how phishing scams work, and gives advice on how to avoid them. The Home office has produced guidelines on identify theft; details can be found at: http://www.identity-theft.org.uk.

1Gartner Says Number of Identity Theft Victims Has Increased More Than 50 Percent Since 2003, March 2007
2Home Office Identity Theft Website

About Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky Lab is the largest antivirus company in Europe. It delivers some of the world’s most immediate protection against IT security threats, including viruses, spyware, crimeware, hackers, phishing, and spam. The Company is ranked among the world’s top four vendors of security solutions for endpoint users. Kaspersky Lab products provide superior detection rates and one of the industry’s fastest outbreak response times for home users, SMBs, large enterprises and the mobile computing environment. Kaspersky® technology is also used worldwide inside the products and services of the industry’s leading IT security solution providers. Learn more at . For the latest on antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and other IT security issues and trends, visit www.viruslist.com.