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Password burden turns Britons on to fingerprint protection

Antony Savvas

Demand for fingerprint-protected computers has soared because "lazy Britons" suffer from password fatigue when trying to log on, says electrical retailer Comet.

Sales of computers and laptops equipped with the latest finderprint technology have risen 91% in the past three months, as consumers look for better ways to safeguard their personal details and prevent against the risk of identity fraud.

Comet said one in 14 of the computers and laptops it sells feature the latest fingerprint sensors, where the owner has to scan their fingerprint, "making it impossible for unauthorised use".

Comet said the 7% rise in fingerprint PC sales was for the three months from May to July 2008 compared with the previous three months. Since the beginning of the year, there has been a big increase in reported data loss incidents.

A Comet survey suggests the popularity of products with such technology could be down to Britons confused about which passwords they choose to protect their computers.

Over one in three people (36%) use the same password to log into files on home and work computers, and seven out of 10 use fewer than four passwords in total.

Three-quarters (76%) choose their partner's name, child's name or pet's name for their password. Other easily guessable passwords include football team or name of favourite footballer player (used by 37% of men). And 11% admitted to using the word "password" to gain entry to their personal computer.

The research, which questioned more than 1,300 Comet customers, found only 24% used the simple security measures of mixing up letters and numbers in a password. Even then, half of those who do admitted to using their own christian or middle name and birthday.

More than half (51%) said they were more concerned about forgetting their password than they were about computer security and hackers. They therefore didn't regularly change their password.

Users were also fed up of having to remember passwords and 82% said they would like a better way to log into computer systems.

Bob Darke, Comet commercial director, said, "Fingerprint-protected computers are in demand because they are an easy way to protect a computer, and they eliminate the possibility of unauthorised access to a laptop or a PC because each individual's fingerprint is unique."

The most common passwords

1 Partner's name

2 Own name

3 Birthdate

4 Pet's name

5 Football team

6 "password"

7 Favourite singer/band

8 Mother's/father's name

9 House name/street name or house number

10 123456, or abc123

Source: Comet

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