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Young people most at risk of online account hack: how to stay safe

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Millennials may be the first generation to grow up with home computers, social media and online shopping, but they could also be the most vulnerable to online hackers.

Research from Gocompare Money found that 18–24 year olds were the least likely to keep their personal information safe, potentially making their online accounts more susceptible to cybercrime.

The survey found young adults were more lax about their personal information and online security than other age groups.

Half of 18 to 24 year olds surveyed admitted to using the same passwords and PINs across most of their accounts and were twice as likely as all adults to create weak passwords which only use letters.  The vast majority (86%) were also guilty of over-sharing their data on social media and post personal information which is commonly used to create passwords and PINs;

Pets’ names were both a popular source of inspiration in creating passwords and for social media postings.

Other personal information used to generate passwords and PINs included year of birth, birthday day and month.  The survey revealed millennials were freely making this information public on their social media accounts:

Matt Sanders, head of money at Gocompare.com, said: “This week’s Tesco Bank hack is just the latest in a string of attacks from cyber criminals, and follows not long after the worst ever hack inflicted on a company, which saw the personal details of at least 500 million Yahoo! accounts stolen by hackers.

“While these breaches of security are not the fault of customers, they do act as a vital reminder about the importance of actively managing passwords and PINs to keep our information safe and secure – especially as we enter the Christmas shopping period.

Gocompare Money’s Password and PIN dos and don’ts:


  • Mix it up – use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols such as !£?;
  • Change letters to numbers or symbols – for example E becomes 3, S to 5;
  • Create long passwords of at least six characters, the longer the better. These are harder for criminals to crack;
  • Do use different passwords and PINs on different accounts;
  • If you suspect someone else knows your password or PIN, change it;
  • If you need to write passwords down in order to remember them, encrypt them so they are indecipherable to other people.


  • Don’t use easy to guess information such as your name, the names of other family members, your pets’ names as your password;
  • Don’t use the word ‘password’ as your password;
  • When creating a PIN avoid using ascending or descending numbers, for example 1234 or 4321, repeated numbers (e.g. 9999) or easily recognisable keypad patterns such as 12369 or 2580;
  • Don’t use the same password across different sites.  If one site gets hacked and your password is stolen, hackers will often try it on other sites.
  • Don’t disclose your passwords or PINs to anyone else.