COVID-19 has caused severe economic and societal disruption, not to mention the impact on both our physical and mental health.
Lockdowns, shielding, and stay-at-home orders imposed worldwide forced many of us to turn to online sources for everything from our groceries to banking and entertainment, and this led to what IBM calls a “digital reliance” and the need to create more online accounts than ever before.
The results are in, and they are not good.
With so much else going on, little thought seems to have been given for personal security. As we signed up for account after account — with 15 new online accounts created during the main thrust of the pandemic, on average, per person — 82% of those surveyed admitted sometimes reusing the same passwords and credentials.
- Always re-use same credentials 21% 21%
- Mostly re-use same credentials 24% 24%
- About an even mix of re-used credentials and new credentials 20% 20%
- Mostly use new credentials 18% 18%
- Always use new credentials 12% 12%
- Don’t know/Not applicable 6% 6%
Billions of new accounts, therefore, are now active across the Internet worldwide — and 44% of respondents said they do not plan to deactivate these new accounts, a trend IBM says will give consumers “an increased digital footprint for years to come, greatly expanding the attack surface for cybercriminals.”
In addition, the report found that convenience often outweighs security concerns, perhaps due to how often we hear of data breaches and the knowledge that so much of our Personally identifiable information (PII) is already widely available.
Over 51% of the millennial age group, for example, would rather risk using an insecure app or website rather than visit a physical store or make a phone call when ordering products and services.
- GenZers: 1997-2012 45% 45%
- Millennials: 1981-1996 51% 51%
- GenXers: 1965-1980 42% 42%
- Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 33% 33%
- GenZers: 1997-2012 55% 55%
- Millennials: 1981-1996 49% 49%
- GenXers: 1965-1980 58% 58%
- Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 67% 67%
It is recommended that you consider using a password manager that can generate strong passwords on your behalf, monitor for data leaks that have exposed them online, and for further security, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) or consider a physical key, such as Yubikey, for an additional layer of protection.
Charlie Osborne, 2021, Pandemic prompts digital ‘boom’ in account creation – as well as password fatigue, June 15, 2021, <https://www.zdnet.com/article/pandemic-prompts-digital-boom-in-account-creation-as-well-as-password-fatigue/>