Morning Consult recently conducted a global survey on behalf of IBM Security which recorded responses of around 22,000 individuals across 22 different markets. The survey highlighted the harmful effects that the pandemic had on consumer security behavior. As the work we do has shifted from physical to online platforms, it has become increasingly difficult to protect themselves from hackers who thrive in exploiting accounts through online facilities.
IBM stated that during the pandemic, the average individual created 15 new online accounts, which combined together with the world’s population, amounts to billions of new and vulnerable accounts for hackers to choose from. IBM went on to say that 44% of people who created the new accounts did not plan on deleting or deactivating their new accounts. This will lead to those consumers leaving their digital footprints implanted on the web for years to come, further increasing their chances of falling prey to cyberattacks.
Passwords become scrappier
The number of new accounts that each individual has to create for new websites has caused them to resort to taking shortcuts in order to make their lives easier. Most users tend to keep the same password or use an easily identifiable one when creating new accounts, as they do not want to go through the hassle of remembering each unique password. In fact, 82% of respondents said in the survey that they reused the same credentials, and many of them used log-in details that had been previously breached.
This tactic may seem like it would help, but all it does is allow experienced hackers to easily access all of an individual’s accounts using the same credentials.
The Global Managing Partner and Head of IBM Security X-Force, Charles Henderson, said that with passwords having less reliability due to their lack of airtight security, organizations must adapt to the environment to ensure that they do not have their digital security breached. One way in which organizations can do this, aside from using multi-factor authentication, is by adopting a zero-trust policy in which they use advanced AI and analytics to spot any potential threats rather than believing all users are trusted after authentication.
Convenience is king
Consumers want an easy and seamless process when creating accounts. The IBM survey reported that 59% of adults expect the process of creating a new account to be less than five minutes. Due to this, consumers are likely to take cybersecurity lightly.
To remember their password, 32% of people simply write it down on a piece of paper which is as effective as just trying to remember it from memory, which was the case with 44% of respondents.
Respondents to the survey even said that if they did not recall their password, they would try three or four possibilities and then choose to reset their password. This rest not only costs money for the company but is also a security threat if used for an already compromised email account.
Respondents are now starting to understand the importance of cybersecurity. Around 67% of them said that they began using multi-factor authentication a few weeks after being surveyed. This helps to double up on the security of accounts from being hacked and is the perfect starting point to combat the increase of cybercriminal activities we’ve seen in the pandemic.