People are using simple passwords and admit that at least one other person knows what it is.
Research by life assistance company CPP found that 46 per cent of Britons use the same password to login to their banking, shopping and social networking sites, with a further 54 per cent confessing to using variations of the same password.
The vulnerability is heightened by the fact that many Brits resort to predictable passwords that are not difficult to track. Nearly one in five (18 per cent) use their pets' names while one in eight use memorable dates such as birthdays (12 per cent). Others use their children's names (ten per cent) or even their mother's maiden names (nine per cent).
The majority (68 per cent) claim that it is too difficult to remember numerous logins, while 17 per cent said that they are worried about forgetting a password and being logged out.
Whitehat Robert Schifreen, said: “Use a different password for every online system that you sign up to. Otherwise, an online fraudster who manages to find your single password will have the keys to your entire online life.
“Also, never type your credit card number, or any other confidential information, into a website that doesn't have the closed padlock symbol to show that what you're typing is being encrypted.”
Steve Watts, co-founder of SecurEnvoy, claimed that it is all very well recommending different passwords for every website, but would question who is actually able to do that.
Watts said: “Think about how many times in a week we need a password to access websites, company networks and confidential information. We all know that we should use complex passwords that differ every time, but how on earth would we remember them? The answer is, we wouldn't. In fact, we'd probably end up writing them all down somewhere and increasing the security risk even further.
“Everyone is aware of the risks from password hackers, but no one really knows what they can do about it. At work, we found that three-quarters of employees have shared their corporate passwords with colleagues. To stay secure we should be going beyond the password and using an additional layer of security to access the information we need in life and at work.”
Stephen Howes, CEO of GrIDsure, claimed that the technology developed by his company prevents fraud as it creates a ‘one-time password with no need for devices and it is easy for Joe Public'.
Howes said: “The man on the street cannot deal with complexity and you have got to deal with the lowest common denominator, in this case the human being. People will go to extreme lengths with passwords as they don't want complexity.”