The findings of Kaspersky Lab’s recent consumer surveys showed 44 per cent of Internet users admit having shared their passwords or stored them in visible places, demonstrating a lack of cyber-savviness and making it easy for cyber-criminals to unlock and gain access into the online lives of consumers. Respondents also were more likely to think strong passwords were necessary for the online services they valued most highly. The studies found that according to consumers the sites most in need of strong passwords were online banking (54 per cent), email (44 per cent) and social media sites (24 per cent). The list of the top three most important applications was almost identical, at 53 per cent for online banking, 43 per cent for email and 21 per cent for social media sites. Findings also showed consumers believe that online shopping and payment applications require strong passwords, but don’t place the same value on these sites. 29 per cent considered online shopping to be a personally important service, although over a third (38 per cent) felt it warranted a strong password. In addition, 29 per cent agreed that online payment systems needed a strong password, with slightly fewer (23 per cent) regarding these services as personally valuable. But, although consumers agreed online financial transactions require a strong password, more than a quarter (29 per cent) said there is no need to have additional protection for their personal credentials when using these services. They expect the brands they shop with to provide all the protection they need. Putting their personal information at even greater risk, 33 per cent of Internet users also admit to freely sharing passwords with family members. 44 per cent have both shared passwords and left them visible to others. 11 per cent share passwords with friends and six per cent do so with colleagues. Kaspersky Lab principal security researcher, David Emm, said with 38 per cent of consumers using only one email address for all of their needs, sharing that password with others could prove costly. He claimed should it get into the wrong hands, this password could unlock all information stored on that email address. “Consumers need to be more cyber-savvy about passwords. Our research shows that there is a real disconnect between the understanding of why we need strong passwords and the action people take to keep them safe. No one would expect a friend or family member to knowingly divulge a password, but by sharing passwords, consumers are increasing the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. “This could give cyber criminals easy access to personal and financial information and hacked accounts can be used to distribute malicious links and files, harming others. At worst, entire identities could be put at risk. Even the most complex password is weak if it’s visible to others, so keep it to yourself,” he said.