Young adults careless about status-jacking

Passwords: who needs ’em? Not young people, according to a new survey. Fewer than half of 18 to 25-year-olds in the US, the UK and Australia bother to keep theirs private when accessing social networks.

AVG says it commissioned the study to highlight the dangers of ‘status jacking’ — particularly prevalent amongst students and the under 25s, it says.

“The fact that most young adults secure their laptops and PCs is positive news, but the most worrying statistic is that four in ten share their passwords, something we do not advise doing,” says AVG’s Tony Anscombe.

It surveyed over 1,000 18 to 25-year-olds across the US, Australia, the UK, Czech Republic and Japan.In the US, while 78 percent secure their laptops with a password, only 41 percent protect their mobile devices. Amongst British young adults, half secure their mobile devices with a password, while in Australia 54 percent do.

Rather counter-productively, though, 42 percent of young adults in the UK and Australia share their passwords with friends and family, as do 35 percent of young Americans.

Young women are less careful – or trust their familes less – than young men. Forty-two percent of women under 25 share their passwords compared to 28 percent of men.

“Sharing passwords can leave your social networks open to status jacking and leaves your other online accounts, such as banking, vulnerable to attack,” says Anscombe.

“You only have to walk away from your mobile for a few minutes for someone to access your email, download your contacts, and to masquerade as you on a social network.”

Another recent survey from AVG found that Facebook had the highest rate of status-joacking of any social network, accounting for over half of all cases.