Learning how to hack into any web-based account takes just 15 minutes, says CPP.

The life assistance company conducted a controlled experiment that saw 14 volunteers with "limited technical knowledge" given a classroom-style tutorial on how to use a technique known as 'man in the middle' to gain unauthorised access to web-based accounts.

The technique taught works by intercepting a communication between two people or the content someone is viewing online. When they log-in to a web-based account the username and password appear on the hacker's PC, allowing them to store the information and access the account themselves at a later date.

They volunteers then downloaded hacking software, which allowed them to access login details and passwords for e-mail accounts, social networking sites and online shopping accounts within a matter of minutes.

However, they'd all signed a disclaimer confirming they would not use the information for illegal or malicious attacks.

The firm claims over 20,000 videos that offer basic hacking information so viewers could potentially access social network profiles, email, smartphones and PayPal accounts that don't belong to them, are available on Google-owned video-sharing site YouTube.

Research by CPP revealed 17 percent of web users are aware these tutorials exist, while 63 percent say they should be removed from the internet. More than half (56 percent ) of web users believe the Government should take responsibility for removing this content from the web.

And it's not surprising, as nearly a quarter (24 percent) of Brits with web-based password-protected accounts claim to have had their personal email accessed by a stranger, while 19 percent admit their eBay accounts have been hacked. Furthermore, 16 percent say their social networks have been accessed by hackers while 10 percent have seen money or a loan obtained in their name by someone else.

"The recent Sony security breach that saw a hacker gain access to the personal data of more than 100 million online gamers including people in the UK has demonstrated the growing and widespread risk that hackers pose to consumers and businesses," said, CPP's identity fraud expert, Michael Lynch.

"It is important people are aware of the risks so they can take the necessary steps to protect their identities and manage any compromised data. As our live session has shown, these hacking 'skills' can be applied within minutes, so it's crucial for consumers to take steps to protect themselves."

The life assistance company is also urging the government to take a stronger stance on internet hacking tutorials.

"With an increased demand for tighter online security, we're calling on the government to review access to these online hacking lessons and implement tighter regulation of internet hacking communities."