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IBM survey: Bad cyber habits made worse by the pandemic


According to a study conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM Security, there are some troubling cyber trends amongst consumers that occurred during the pandemic and are likely to outlast the health crisis.

Amongst the findings of the global survey of 22,ooo individuals in 22 markets:

  • Individuals surveyed created 15 new online accounts during the pandemic on average, equating to billions of new accounts created around the world. With 44% reporting that they do not plan to delete or deactivate these new accounts, these consumers will have an increased digital footprint for years to come
  • The surge in digital accounts led to lax password behaviours among those surveyed, with 82% of respondents admitting to reusing credentials at least some of the time.
  • More than half (51%) of millennials surveyed would rather place an order using a potentially insecure app or website than call or go to a physical location in person.

“The pandemic led to a surge in new online accounts, but society’s growing preference for digital convenience may come at a cost to security and data privacy,” said Charles Henderson, Global Managing Partner and Head, IBM Security X-Force, in a company press release. “Organizations must now consider the effects of this digital dependence on their security risk profile. With passwords becoming less and less reliable, one way that organizations can adapt, beyond multi-factor authentication, is shifting to a zero trust approach — applying advanced AI and analytics throughout the process to spot potential threats, rather than assuming a user is trusted after authentication.”

Additional findings from the report include:

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  • Most adults (59%) expect to spend less than 5 minutes setting up a new digital account
  • 44% of respondents store online account information in their memory (most common method,) while 32% write this information on paper
  • Around two-thirds of global respondents had used multi-factor authentication within the past few weeks of being surveyed