Most Americans Claim They Follow Best Practices to Protect Their Privacy Online; Avast Research Proves Otherwise

Unprotected Smartphones and Unlocked Banking Apps -- plus Weak Password Requirements from American Web Sites -- Contribute to Lost Privacy

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., November 3, 2015The majority (98%) ofconsumers in the U.S.* claim to create safe passwords, but Avast research shows only 6% actually do. Avast, maker of the world’s most-trusted PC and mobile security, also revealed that the majority of the most visited U.S. websites don’t challenge users to choose strong passwords. Furthermore, Avast found that 40% of Americans don’t even lock their smartphones, though 69% say having people see their personal information is their biggest fear. Specifically, 74% of Americans say they’d rather have their nude photos leaked than their personal banking information, yet many more lock their photos apps than their banking apps.

"While Americans are rightfully concerned about privacy, there is a disconnect between that concern and the steps they take to protect themselves," said Vince Steckler, chief executive officer of Avast. "Users have a multitude of devices and passwords to keep track of, which can be overwhelming. When users feel overwhelmed, they tend to default to unsafe practices that put their privacy at risk."

Avast discovered that the average length of a password is only eight characters, and 95% of passwords contain only letters or numbers, with only 4.7% using special characters. Unfortunately, websites make it too easy to use weak passwords. Out of the top 20 most visited U.S. websites, 17 don‘t require passwords to use a combination of upper and lower case letters or numbers and special characters. Twelve websites accept passwords with as few as six characters, and two of those accept passwords that are less than six characters. Security experts recommend using passwords with no less than sixteen characters and a mixture of characters and numbers. Nearly 30% of users surveyed cited "too hard to remember" as the main reason for not using stronger passwords.

In another survey conducted by Avast, 40% of the respondents admitted that they don’t even use a password or a PIN code to lock their smartphone screens from prying eyes. Another 50% said they rarely or never change their login passwords for online web sites, even after they’ve been notified that a site has been breached.

"We make it too easy to have our privacy taken – either through our own laziness or because websites don’t demand more of us," Steckler said. "To protect our privacy, we need to modify our behavior, and that includes using better password management techniques."

Avast 2016, Avast Mobile Security and Avast SecureMe

To help consumers address their growing privacy concerns, Avast is introducing three new products — Avast 2016, the redesigned Avast Mobile Security and Avast SecureMe. Each of these tools will help reduce the complexity that typically comes with protecting private, personal information, while also providing the high-quality anti-virus protection users have come to expect.

New features for Avast 2016 include:

  • Passwords — Avast Passwords automatically generates extremely strong passwords that users don’t have to remember -- users set and remember only one main password to access all their passwords, synchronize passwords across devices, check the security of a user’s password and delete all passwords stored in a user’s browser. Avast Passwords alerts users if their credentials are stolen in a data breach. Avast Passwords is a multi-platform solution, - users can sync their passwords across devices, including iOS and Android devices, by connecting their devices through their Avast Account.
  • SafeZone Browser— Isolates all banking and payment sites in a protected space in Pay Mode, while also automatically opening suspicious sites into an isolated, virtual environment.

The completely redesigned, and free, Avast Mobile Security for Android includes:

  • Leading Mobile Malware Protection— Avast Mobile Security provides users with the most advanced mobile malware protections available, now even faster with Avast’s leading cloud scanning engine.
  • Privacy Advisor– Informs the user about data apps have access to and ad networks included in apps.
  • Wi-Fi Security – Notifies the user when connecting to an unsecure router.
  • Unlimited App Locking— Users can password protect any and all apps on a device, providing another line of defense against prying eyes.

Avast SecureMe is a brand-new privacy app for iPhone and iPad users:

  • Wi-Fi Security –Same feature as in Avast Mobile Security. Users will be notified when connecting to an unsecure router.
  • VPN– Avast SecureMe establishes a secure connection when the user is connecting to open Wi-Fi.

Avast 2016 for PC and Mac is now available for download at www.avast.com. Avast 2016’s Avast Passwords feature is now available for PC, Android and iOS, and will soon be available for Mac. The new Avast Mobile Security app can be found in the Google Play Store. Avast SecureMe will soon be available on the Apple App Store.

*Survey among 6,800 consumers in the U.S., October 2015.