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About 70% of people in Hong Kong use the same password for an average of seven online accounts, said Tuesday the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and PayPal Hong Kong in publicizing the results of studies on the safety of online payments.

The study was commissioned by PayPal Hong Kong, and developed and hosted by CityU for two weeks in August 2011. Collected more than 1200 responses, available to Internet users in Hong Kong at the age of 18 years and older, with about 75% of respondents are aged between 22 and 39 years, said the organization. More than 50% of respondents have a university degree, and their average monthly income of 15 000 Hong Kong dollars.

Results of the study revealed that despite the fact that 38% of respondents worry about the loss of personal information, 60% of people reported that they never update their passwords, or did it only when needed.

“Despite the growing threat of hacking and network attacks, most people do not change their risky reacts online habits,” – said Daniel Tse Woon-quanta from the Department of Information Systems CityU.“The share of risky behavior, such as using the same password for multiple accounts, unexpectedly increased among respondents of different education levels and income, which is indicative of a widespread problem.”

In addition, over 75% of respondents regularly, at least once a month, make payments online, paying for purchases and paying off bills. Despite the growing proliferation of online payments, 78% of respondents indicated that security is a concern, which increasingly interferes with their use.

While the introduction of smart phones in Hong Kong continues to gain momentum, more than 67% of respondents said they would choose mobile phones and other devices to make payments because of the convenience, efficiency and capabilities of operations at any time and any place.

But at the same time, only 20% of people agree that payment by mobile phone to be safe, while 40% said they would use the mobile payment only for minor operations such as buying a coffee or a cinema ticket. Only one in eight people would use mobile payments for the purchase of items costing in excess of 500 HK dollars, according to a study.

“This study reveals PayPal and CityU obvious discrepancy between the high interest of Hong Kong people to use methods of online and mobile payments, and their low awareness and willingness to protect themselves from potential risks,” – said Charles Mok, chairman of the Internet community in Hong Kong. “As Hong Kong people are spending more of their work and personal time online, we must work together to increase awareness of online risks and help people to protect against fraud.”