Many youngsters in US, UK, Australia share their passwords (4/10) while less than half password protect their mobile devices

Online PR News – 23-September-2010 – – A study by Internet Security company AVG comparing young adults (18-25 year olds) in the US, UK and Australia shows that most are not taking adequate security precautions when it comes to securing their social network profiles.

AVG’s study was commissioned to highlight the dangers of ‘status jacking’, the practice of hijacking status updates on social networks, which is particularly prevalent among students and the under 25s.

The research shows the degree to which young adults in all three countries secure the devices that they use to access social networks - PCs/laptops, mobile devices, and handhelds such as iPads.

The results show that:

While most 18-25 year olds (78%) secure their laptops with a password, less than half (48.3%) password protect their mobiles. This figure drops to 41% in the US. Among British young adults, only 50% secure their mobiles with a password while in Australia just over half (54%) do.

Barely quarter (25%) put any kind of password security on their handheld devices, such as iPads or Blackberrys..For the UK, 21% do, while for the US (26%) and Australia (27%) the figures are slightly better.

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.

Most under 25s are aware of the need to use different passwords across different social networks. In the UK and US 72% of young adults use different passwords, while for Australia the figure is 75%.

Unfortunately, four in ten (39.6%) across the UK (42%), Australia (42%) share their passwords with friends and family. In the US, the figure is over one in three (35%).

Over one in ten young adults in Australia (15%) and the UK (12%) have accidentally downloaded a virus via a social network. In the UK the figure is 9%.

Overall, young women are less careful about security than young men. 42% of women under 25 share their passwords compared to 28% of men. Meanwhile, while 81% of men under 25s password protect their laptops and PCs, a quarter (26%) of women don’t bother to do so.

AVG’s Ambassador of Free, Tony Anscombe says that it is concerning that many people share passwords.

“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.

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

He adds that youngsters should secure their handheld and mobile devices as more and more people are accessing social networks via these devices, especially the under 25s.

“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.”

Status Jacking video
AVG has put together a video featuring UK comedienne Holly Burns, which guides students and young adults through the dangers of status jacking in a light hearted, but informative, manner.

The video is available to view at


Research Now conducted the survey among 1000+ 18-25 year olds across the US, Australia, Japan, the UK and the Czech Republic in the first week of September.]

Further resources about this story are available as follows:
Video – Keeping safe on social networks with comedienne Holly Burn
AVG Blog post – AVG survey shows that most youngsters don’t take adequate security precautions
AVG blog post - Six steps to securing your Facebook privacy - 
For further information
Bridey Lipscombe and Dirk Singer, +44(0)208 123 9541,

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