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Monday, 24 June, 2002, 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Warning over password security
Man using computer keyboard
Many people never change their passwords
Computer users are being urged to change their passwords regularly to avoid becoming a victim of internet fraud.

Experts say that passwords used to log on to the internet and access confidential information such as bank details should be altered at least once a month, both at home and at work.

The warning comes as a survey suggests more than half of computer users never change their passwords, and many use words that can be easily guessed.

Common passwords
23% child's name
19% partner's name
12% birthdays
9% football team
9% celebrities and bands
9% favourite places
8% own name
8% pet's name
Source: Egg survey
The study published by the British online bank Egg says users even leave passwords written on Post-It notes attached to their computers.

The names of loved ones and relatives top the list of the most commonly chosen passwords, according to the survey of 1,000 users.

The BBC's e-commerce reporter John Moylan says the rapid rise of the internet has been mirrored by increased concerns about carrying out transactions online.

'Simple steps'

He says the survey demonstrates that computer users' own behaviour presents a major security risk.

The study recommends that as well as changing passwords regularly, users should:

  • Make passwords at least eight digits long
  • Not write passwords down
  • Use more than one password for different websites
  • Avoid common themes.
Patrick Muir, director of marketing at Egg, said: "The internet is as safe a place to shop or bank as the high street.

"However, there are a number of simple steps that consumers can take in order to improve their personal security."

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The BBC's John Moylan
"Many of us are choosing blindingly obvious passwords"
See also:

10 May 02 | Science/Nature
08 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
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