Aussies stick with old passwords despite new hacks

One in three Australians have had their passwords stolen but almost as many are still using the same details across multiple accounts, according to research from Google Australia.

The tech giant revealed findings from its study on Monday, which also showed many internet users did not know how to increase their security online and Gen Z nominated themselves as the most lost.

The research comes days after the Australian Signals Directorate revealed cyber crime reports had soared by 23 per cent over the past year and the organisation was now fielding an online crime report every six minutes on average.

Google’s survey, conducted by YouGov, quizzed more than 1500 Australian adults about their online security and found 36 per cent experienced a password hack and 34 per cent were using the same or similar passwords across multiple accounts.

One in four respondents did report changing their passwords after major consumer data breaches last year, but more than one in three did not take any steps to improve their account security.

Google infrastructure protection engineering director Darren Bilby said the survey findings proved more Aussies were interested in boosting their own security, even though many did not know where to start.

“This research shows that Australians are looking for ways to keep themselves safe and secure online,” he said.

Despite their interest, 42 per cent of Gen Z respondents said they did not know how to further secure their accounts, followed by 41 per cent of Millennials, 39 per cent of Gen Xers, and 37 per cent of Baby Boomers.

Mr Bilby said he advised a range of security measures beyond employing complex passwords for each account, including “using a password manager, two-factor authentication and ensuring your browser is safe and can detect malicious sites”.

Users could also sign up to use account passkeys that use fingerprints or passcodes, he said, as well as regularly updating software and checking website addresses before exposing sensitive information.

Google Australia search trends revealed growing interest in online security, with web searches for “password strength” at an 18-year high and queries for “password manager” reaching record levels.

Last week the Australian Signals Directorate’s annual report revealed growing online crime as it received almost 94,000 reports during the year and more than 33,000 phone calls.

The most common online crimes against individuals included identity fraud, banking fraud, and online shopping fakes.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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