Millions of people are leaving their personal data exposed to cyber-criminals - because they don’t know their own passwords.
Nearly two thirds of UK adults rely on ‘auto-fill’ to complete the login process for some or all websites.
And a third of Brits login automatically AND store their bank card details to shopping sites like eBay and Amazon -- making them vulnerable to attack.
With nearly half of people primarily accessing these sites on their phone, the loss of their handset could prove disastrous.
Mobile and internet security company BullGuard commissioned the study exploring the login preferences of 2,000 UK adults when browsing the web on a phone or tablet.
Cam Le, Chief Marketing Officer at BullGuard, said: “The results show that a large number of people are taking risks with sensitive data, largely for the sake of convenience.
“We save login and bank card details often without a second thought, but with that comes the risk of what could happen should our mobiles or tablets fall into the wrong hands.
“It’s always important to make it is as difficult as possible for criminals to access personal and financial details, and that obviously includes those stored on personal devices.”
Less than half of people taking part in the survey have set up a pass code for their phone or tablet - meaning anyone who gets their hands on the device can access its contents freely.
By staying logged in to social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, three in five Brits are making it easier for would-be criminals to access their private data.
While 58 per cent of respondents stay signed-in to their email accounts permanently, despite the private and sensitive information potentially accessible.
Nearly two thirds of people store their credit or debit card details on Amazon, over a fifth do the same for eBay and a third also save their card details on online payment service, PayPal.
Furthermore, over a fifth of UK adults stay permanently logged-in to the payment service.
The typical Brit has approximately six different passwords and seven in 10 struggle to remember them.
In fact, Brits have to request a new password every other month on average because they keep forgetting them, while a third of respondents resort to writing their passwords down.
Eight in 10 of those polled said they use the autofill option “purely for speed and convenience” while half say it’s “annoying to continually type passwords in.”
On why they find it difficult to remember passwords, over half of respondents blamed websites which force them to use “strange characters” or numbers.
Over a third of UK adults struggle because they try to have a different password for each website they log in to.
In addition to the wealth of private and financial information potentially available to opportunistic thieves, the device itself isn’t cheap - being worth #194.09 on average.
Despite this, little more than three in 10 people have insured their phone or tablet.
And less than a quarter of those surveyed have activated the “find my phone/tablet” function enabling them to track their device if lost or stolen.
While just a fifth of respondents have installed security software on their phone.
Cam Le added: “Given the sheer number of often complicated passwords we have to remember, it’s perfectly understandable that many of us pre-store login details.
“But in light of the results of our study we’d advise people to be a bit more selective with the websites where they choose to do this.
“We’d particularly recommend that people memorise passwords for sites where they have saved financial information.
“Sites that don’t reveal any potentially sensitive data are lower risk. Hopefully with this middle ground, people can still enjoy a comfortable and safe environment online.”
Top 10 sites Brits store their bank card details on
1. Amazon - 64.13 per cent
2. PayPal - 32.90 per cent
3. eBay - 21.19 per cent
4. Tesco - 10.78 per cent
5. Argos - 9.85 per cent
6. Marks & Spencer - 9.48 per cent
7. Apple - 7.62 per cent
8. Rakuten - 6.88 per cent
9. Asda - 6.69 per cent
9. NetFlix - 6.69 per cent
10. ASOS - 6.51 per cent
Top 10 sites for storing login details including passwords
1. Facebook - 60.12 per cent
2. Email provider (Hotmail, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc) - 35.28 per cent
3. Amazon - 33.97 per cent
4. Twitter - 26.69 per cent
5. eBay - 20.25 per cent
6. Instagram - 13.88 per cent
7. PayPal - 13.57 per cent
8. Google+ - 11.89 per cent