Weak passwords leave British open to cybercrime

Research has revealed that 83 per cent of the UK population still use either their date of birth, pet name, street name or maiden name as a password.

More worrying still, the survey by people search website Yasni said that we're using these unsecure details for most of our private email or bank accounts.

Not surprisingly, only 37 per cent of users are aware of the dangers of disclosing this information online, such as on social networking sites like Facebook.

"With social networking sites and forums, in particular, people trust their friends and are at ease with the intended recipient of the message; therefore forgetting this very private information has been made public," said Yasni's chief executive Steffen Ruehl in a statement.

Michael Callahan, vice president of data protection security vendor Credant Technologies, suggested that this human habit of using simple and easy to remember passwords strengthened the case for encryption.

"The fact that so many people are using data that can be easily extracted from public records or even the internet is extremely worrying, as, if that approach is tranposed to a business environment, it makes company security very weak indeed," he said in a statement.

He claimed that this made the case for encryption more necessary on data in the workplace as well as laptops used outside of the office environment.

Callahan added that workers often developed close ties, and could easily be sharing password sensitive information to each other as well as the outside world.

"If the data from the survey is extrapolated to the workplace, then it's a fair bet that your work colleagues are using similar low levels of password security on their office systems," he said. "If ever there was a case for encryption of company data, this is it."