UK’s online identity habits revealed: Have we reached peak password?

1 in 4 over 55s have over 11 unique password logins

Experian research has revealed a growing generational divide in the way the UK population manages its online identities. Millennials are at high risk from online identity fraud as they favour convenience over any security concerns.However, there is a divergence in the way different age groups conduct themselves online, causing inconvenience on one hand and threatening online safety on the other.

Nick Mothershaw, Director of Identity and Fraud at Experian, said: “Our research has shown that people across the generations have very different attitudes towards the way they navigate the internet and manage their online accounts, or online IDs.

“The younger generation appears to be more driven by convenience and rarely have more than five unique passwords. They are also far more likely to log in to multiple accounts using a single social media online ID. But what they may not realize is that this thirst for convenience leaves them more vulnerable to the threat of identity fraud. We’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of cases affecting this age group.”

Experian’s latest Hunter statistics show an increase of 5% year-on-year in those under 30 becoming a target of identity theft, with people living in Rental Hubs particularly vulnerable. More than 1 in 3 cases of third party fraud are carried out against this group.

At the other end of the spectrum, the older generation were found to be much more likely to use multiple passwords to log in to their online accounts, placing more value on a cautious approach to security at the expense of convenience. 1 in 4 admitted to using a memory-straining 11 or more password combinations.

It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that a high proportion of over 55s admit to having problems remembering their codes. This memory strain is a growing problem, with four in 10 people stating that they need to use a password memory service to help them remembering all their passwords. While more than half (55%) of those surveyed admit to using the same password for multiple online IDs.

Experian also found there is significant confusion about what an online ID is – with 1 in 3 (31%) of those surveyed admitting they did not know and a further 61% choosing different definitions to explain an online identity.

Three in 5 (61%) people in the UK admit they don’t always understand what they are agreeing to when they sign up for a new profile online, with 1 in 9 (11%) conceding they never understand.

“The typical person in the UK has an estimated 26 online accounts, or online IDs, with between six and 10 passwords that they use regularly,” added Mothershaw. “As convenience becomes increasingly important to consumers, the all too familiar and often frustrating process of answering several security questions to prove who you are, and recover your password, could become unsustainable. We may well have reached peak password.”

 

Experian offers some proactive steps people can take against fraud:

  1. Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and phone calls.
  2. Use different passwords for different accounts – particularly for your email account and online banking.
  3. Use strong passwords made up of three random words – you can add in numbers and symbols, and use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters if you want.
  4. If you’re using public Wi-Fi, don’t log in to any sites that need a password (eg your bank, social media or email) or enter personal information such as your card details.
  5. Always download the latest software on your phone, tablet and computer. This will help protect against malicious software.

Notes to Editors:

  • An online ID is the login details a person uses to access individual services, such as email, social media and bank accounts.
  • Experian’s online ID study is available in two parts; ‘The Evolution of Identity’ and ‘The Future of Identity’ whitepapers are available on request.
  • Further research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,001 respondents aged 16+ in UK between 12.05.17-15.05.17. The survey was conducted using a representative sample of UK adults. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. 

 

Contacts:

Ade O’Connor

PR Manager, B2B

07583 085 796

ade.o’connor@experian.com

 

Nick Jones

Head of B2B PR, UKI & EMEA

07976 734702

nick.jones@experian.com

 

About Experian

Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organisations to prevent identity fraud and crime.

We have more than 16,000 people operating across 37 countries and every day we’re investing in new technologies, talented people and innovation to help all our clients maximize every opportunity. We are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Learn more at www.experianplc.com or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the Group.