Almost one quarter of UAE Internet users assume their passwords are of no value to cyber criminals, according to a survey conducted by Russia-based cyber security company Kaspersky Lab and B2B International.
Kaspersky Lab insisted, however, that passwords “are the keys to… personal data, private lives, and even… money,” and warned that compromised passwords could not only effect the owner, but also their contacts.
If cyber-miscreants were to infiltrate an email account, for example, they would gain access to registration emails and password-reset confirmations sent from other services. Hijacking of a social media account allows attackers to spread malware to contacts. Passwords to online store accounts may lead to the theft of financial data or just a straight spending of the account holder’s money.
According to the results of Kaspersky Lab’s survey, UAE respondents showed relative apathy or ignorance of these consequences. Under half (47%) named passwords as valuable information that they would not want to see in the hands of cybercriminals, while 24% saw no inherent value in their passwords for criminals.
Password practices in the Gulf nation also were revealed to be weak. Only 20% of users create a separate password for each account, and 18% write down their passwords in a notebook. Some 11% store them in a file on the device, and 6% leave them on a sticker near the computer. Kaspersky also reported that 22% of users freely share their personal account passwords with family members and friends.
Kaspersky Lab set the survey responses against figures obtained by its own Security Network during 2014. The network, made up of the company’s own customers, saw 3.5m people targeted by “malicious attacks capable of stealing usernames and passwords to accounts of various types”, according to a statement by Kaspersky Lab. Among 23 countries, 28% of respondents in the UAE reported that their accounts had been hacked during the year.
“Even if you are not a celebrity or a billionaire, cybercriminals can profit from your credentials”, said Peter Aleshkin, manager, Consumer Marketing Group, Emerging Markets, Kaspersky Lab. “A password is like a key to your home; you wouldn’t leave your door on the latch, or put your keys where anyone could find them, just because you don’t think you have anything of great value. Complex passwords unique to each account, carefully stored in a safe place, will save you a lot of trouble.”