Even the most tech-savvy Americans have bad online safety habits

92% of Americans say they care about online safety and data privacy, yet a new report from iProov showed 44% polled shared passwords and mobile devices with their partners.

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An iProov  survey validated  the movement toward a password-less society. iProov's report found 44% of Americans have shared their passwords and mobile devices with their partners. The youngest generation are generally considered the most tech-savvy, but they also happen to have the worst online safety habits.

"These survey results underscore the fact that passwords have simply outlived their utility," Andrew Bud, iProov CEO and founder said in a press release. "You wouldn't have the same key to your house, your car, and every building you ever need to go into. But it's also not possible to remember different passwords for every single site you use. So, Americans are recycling and sharing passwords because they want a convenient way to access their accounts. Biometric authentication is the modern replacement for keys."

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Americans are careless with data

Most Americans (92%) insist they care about online safety and data protection, but they're careless with their own data. Despite cybersecurity experts warning that each password should be unique, 59% recycle a few different passwords for online accounts, or worse yet, use the same password for all accounts requiring one.

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Too trusting or lazy? Thirty-four percent of respondents have shared passwords so another person could access their account. While the report cites the streaming site Netflix as an example, a recent bit of YouTube real-life drama involved long-time YouTuber Colleen Ballinger and her "Miranda Sings" character. Ballinger cultivated a relationship with an (underage) fan that eventually led to Ballinger giving him access to her Miranda Twitter account. She gave him her password and allowed him to post (as her), which led to a scandal, the result of which was a 12-minute apology video from Ballinger. 

A picture is worth a thousand sign-ons

The survey found that bad online safety habits not only center around passwords, citing 16% of Americans admit to using a photo of someone else to access an account using facial recognition. This includes 26% of Americans ages 25 to 44, and nearly one in five Americans ages 18 to 24.

There's a generational correlation to impressions of online safety, with concern about online safety and data privacy at 97% for seniors, and declines through the generations to Gen Z, with Americans ages 18 to 24 at only 89%.

Table chart for iProove story

Image: iProov

Younger Americans--Gen Z-- are very cavalier (much more so than older adults), about accessing other people's accounts, with or without their permission. In fact, 50% of Americans accessed someone else's account using their password. Those who've done so without permission include 9% of Americans younger than 44 years old, compared with just 2% of Americans 45 and older. There's a gender component, too, with about twice as many men (7%) as women (4%).

"This underlines that passwords are not fit for today's digital world and that a passwordless, biometric login makes much more sense," Bud said. "Half of respondents share passwords with their partners, and 75% of 18- to 24-year-olds use other people's passwords. This is a much larger issue than just sharing your Netflix credentials - it could be your financial information that you've unknowingly shared, if you're using the same password for your bank and for your streaming services. What happens if you end your relationship or change friendship groups and can't remember which passwords you've shared? It's a massive security problem, and it's why genuine presence assurance is the next step forward in the password and security conversation."  

The survey of more than 1,000 US adults was conducted online and survey responses were nationally representative of the US population for age, gender, region, and ethnicity.

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Text account hacked on laptop screen. Warning triangular sign with exclamation mark symbol. Blue screen. Horizontal.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto