One Briton in eight has hacked into an online account
Email accounts are considered 'skeleton keys' to other online accounts owing to the large amount of storage they offer
One in eight British people have hacked into someone else's online accounts, according to a research published today.
Nearly one-third of so-called "casual hackers" said they did it "just for fun", while a similar number admitted they were snooping on a partner. A further 8 per cent said they accessed email and other accounts to keep tabs on work colleagues, while around 2 per cent said they accessed information for financial gain.
Most common among the online accounts accessed were personal and work emails, money-transaction portals such as PayPal and online banking sites, according to the study. About 16 per cent of the 2,005 people surveyed said someone had accessed their accounts online without permission, with one in 10 claiming to have had money or a loan taken out in their name.
Graham Cluley, an online security specialist with the IT firm Sophos, said: "If you have permission, it is not illegal. However, if you access someone's accounts without permission, that would be a crime under the Computer Misuse Act. And, according to the law, reading someone's emails is worse than reading their diary."
Mr Cluley added that email accounts, because of the amount of storage they offer and their users' propensity to retain messages for years, are the "skeleton keys" to many other online accounts.
He said: "When people sign up to things online, they do so using their email. Usually, any login details and password reminders are sent there so, once someone gets in to your email, they can potentially get into just about everything else."
CPP, the insurance firm that conducted the research, advised people to change their passwords regularly, leave any website where they noticed strange behaviour and avoid transmitting sensitive data over public Wi-Fi.
The firm said that people worried about online security should also only join trusted Wi-Fi networks.
Life & Style blogs
Guest post by Richard Sexton, business development director of e.surv chartered surveyors
Plus lateral thinking and living on London's waterways
Other popular areas include Didsbury, Clifton in Bristol, central Cambridge and West Bridgford
Living with Google Glass: what are they actually like to wear?
Microsoft's Xbox One: Have the price (£399) and release date (30 November) been leaked by online retailer Zavvi?
Splint made by 3D printer used to save baby’s life
The 10 Best road-trip gadgets
Google Glass: First images taken on Google's new glasses appear on Twitter
- 1 Exclusive: Woolwich attack suspect was known to banned terror group and security services
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, the mother-of-two hailed as a hero for confronting Woolwich attackers, thought: 'better me than a child'
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.