Password Perils


- One in ten Brits snoop on their partner online without their permission –

1st February 2012: Hard-up Brits are watching their pennies but not their passwords according to new research out today which reveals that 76 per cent(1) of Brits use the same password for multiple accounts including email, social media sites, online banking and shopping.

The study by esure home insurance found that one in ten Brits (ten per cent) have had had their accounts hacked in the past year and nearly a quarter (24 per cent) keep all of their security passwords in one place.. One in ten Brits (nine per cent) have even snooped on their own partner by using their password without their permission.

The research reveals that the average person is asked for a password up to eleven times per day, but alarmingly, one in five (20 per cent) use the same password for multiple accounts. The most popular password for Brits is their mother’s maiden name with almost 20 per cent using this to access their accounts. This is despite the fact that 15 per cent said they knew it was possible for a stranger to access this information.

The findings revealed that Brits are even more predictable when it comes to entering pin numbers. One in seven (14 per cent) use their birthday, while ten per cent use a simple combination such as ‘1234’ or four of the same numbers. Seventeen per cent admit that they do not destroy, as instructed, the written confirmation of the pin number to their new debit or credit card when it’s sent by the bank. A third of those questioned (33 per cent) even admit they do not always cover up their pin number when paying for something or getting cash out of a ‘hole in the wall’ machine.

 Despite the considerable loss to privacy and risk of fraud, almost half of Brits (48 per cent) keep passwords written down on paper, stored in their phone or on their computer. Alarmingly, one in seven (14 per cent) of those surveyed admit to carrying their passwords around with them, while over a quarter (27 per cent) have them written down at home.

Despite lax measures to make remembering passwords easier, the average Brit has lost access to almost three accounts, including email and online shopping, as a result of forgetting their passwords.

Nikki Sellers, Head of Home Underwriting at esure, said: “The number of passwords needed to navigate modern life is constantly increasing and this has led many Brits to taking serious security risks. Having your account hacked into can be very distressing and lead to further violations, such as break ins, which is another reminder of the need for adequate home insurance.

“Writing down passwords is sometimes the only way to avoid forgetting them, but this should then be treated as a highly valuable possession and not carried around or left lying around where it could easily end up falling into the wrong hands.”

The results show that men are more likely to snoop on their partners than women, with one in ten men using their loved-one’s pin or password without their knowledge, compared to just six per cent of females doing the same to their partners.

According to the research those in the North East are the most security lax with two fifths (41 per cent) failing to cover up their pin numbers, while the most security conscious area is Wales, where well over half (59 per cent) always cover their pin.

Those aged 55 and over are the most careful with their bank details with 86 per cent regularly reading their statements to see if they’ve been a victim of bank fraud. However, this figure is just 59 per cent for people under 25.


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Notes to Editors:
(1) esure used the independent online research company FlyResearch who surveyed 1,000 Brits aged 18 and over, between 26th and 27th January 2012. FlyResearch is an online market research company. Its researches are members of the MRS, PRCA, BPC and Esomar, and abide by their guidelines. Further information is available at