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Illegal trade in online data on the rise

17 Jul 2012 11:41 BST Back
Illegal trade in online data on the rise
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Over 12 million pieces of personal information were traded illegally online globally between January and April 2012, Experian CreditExpert reveals. The vast majority (90%) of it is password and log-in combinations.

Experian CreditExpert's identity web monitoring service research also reveals that the first four months of 2012 have already outstripped the entire of 2010 when 9.5 million pieces of personal information were illegally traded. 

This dramatic surge is thought to be in part due to consumers having a spiralling number of online accounts.  

Additional consumer research commissioned by Experian CreditExpert reveals that the average Briton now has 26 different online accounts with 25-34-year olds being the most prolific, with no fewer than 40.1  

The number of online accounts is set to grow further, with nearly one in five of Britons (17%) signing up to six or more new accounts every month, making us more vulnerable to the possibility of having our personal password and log-in details stolen. 

Despite this, Britons use an average of just five different passwords to keep their details safe, with a quarter (24%) using a single password for the majority of profiles, and one in 25 (4%) sticking with the same log-in details for all their accounts.

In addition, many people are potentially putting themselves further at risk by no longer using many of their accounts, resulting in passwords not being changed regularly. 

Two thirds of adults (66%) admit to having defunct profiles that hold valuable personal and financial information, including social network profiles (26%), email addresses (18%) and shopping accounts (21%).

Peter Turner, managing director at Experian consumer services in the UK and Ireland, says: “The reason password and log-in combinations make up nine out of 10 illegally traded pieces of data is because they give access to a huge amount of other valuable information, such as address books and related accounts.

“Using a different password for each account will minimise risks, but if password information is stolen from a website, all accounts using the same details will be compromised, and this information can spread among fraudsters rapidly.”

Posted by

Smarayda Christoforou

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