Convenience can be costly, and when it comes to passwords, a newstudy says Americans' habits are putting them at risk.

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According to a new survey, almost half of U.S. consumers (44%)use one to five passwords to access all of their onlineapplications, indicating that for many, using the samepassword for multiple accounts is common practice.

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Additionally, the HSB consumer study found that Americans'choice of storing these passwords isn't safe either, as it is morelikely they will use a sticky note than a secure passwordmanagement app.

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The survey asked, “Do you use a password organizer?” Only 16%responded yes, while 80% were a resounding “no.” Many said theystored passwords as notes on their smartphones, in computerdocuments, notebooks and planners, on slips of paper, or saved inemails they send to themselves.

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One respondent added that she keeps her passwords on recipecards. Another business owner said the “universal” passwordsthat are used by everyone in the company are written down foranyone to view.

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To protect yourself, Timothy Zeilman, vice president for HSBsuggests that instead, passwords should be strong and stored in asecure or encrypted location. “Better yet,” Zeilman adds, “usepassphrases, choosing random common words that don't occur togetherin everyday speech.”

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Related: How to navigate email vulnerabilities in theinsurance industry

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Cyber risks by the numbers

Respondents were also surveyed about their computer health.

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Of those polled, one in three respondents (32%) said theyexperienced a virus, hacking incident, or another form of a cyberattack in the last 12 months. Zeilman says this rate should befalling, but attributes part of the problem to carelessness withpasswords and personal security.

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As a result of these attacks, respondents say the most commontype of damage (81%) suffered was a computer virus or otherunwanted software on the system, up from 69% in last year'ssurvey.

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The second most common type of damage at 42% was to software oroperating systems.

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Zogby Analytics was commissioned by The Hartford Steam BoilerInspection and Insurance Company (HSB), part of Munich Re, toconduct an online survey of 1,551 adults in the United States.Based on a confidence interval of 95%, the margin for error wasplus or minus 2.5 percentage points, meaning all other things beingequal, the identical survey repeated will have results within themargin of error 95 times out of 100.

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Related: Cybersecurity best practices

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