About 70 percent of Hongkers use the same password for an average of seven online accounts, said City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and PayPal Hong Kong Tuesday when unveiling results of the Online payment Security Survey.

According to the two organizations, the survey was commissioned by PayPal Hong Kong and designed and executed online by CityU during two weeks in August 2011. More than 1,200 responses were collected from Hong Kong netizens aged 18 or above, with about, 75 percent of respondents in the age group of 22 to 39 age, said the two organizations in a statement. More than 50 percent of respondents have a university degree and the average income of the respondents is HKD$15,000 per month, the two organizations added.

Survey results indicated that while 38 percent of respondents are concerned about sharing personal information online, 60 percent of these people reported that they never update their online passwords or only do so when required.

"Despite rising fears of hacking and online attacks, most people do not act in response to change their risky online habits," said Daniel Tse Woon-kwan from CityU's Department of Information Systems. "The proportion of risky behavior such as using the same passwords for multiple accounts runs unexpectedly high across respondents of all levels of education and income level, an indicator of the widespread issue of online vulnerability."

Security still a concern with online payments

In addition, more than 75 percent of respondents regularly make payments online at least once a month for online shopping and bill payments. Despite the increasingly common use of online payments, 78 percent of respondents state that security is a concern that discourages them from using online payments more often.

Mobile payment seen as unsecure

As smartphone adoption rates continue to grow in Hong Kong, more than 67 percent of respondents said they would choose to use their mobile phones and devices to make a payment because of convenience, efficiency, and the ability to make transactions anytime, anywhere.

But at the same time, only 20 percent of people agree that using a mobile phone to make payments is secure and 40 percent said they would only use mobile payment for small transaction amounts such as buying coffee or a movie ticket. Only one in eight people would be willing to use mobile payment for purchases higher than HK$500, according to survey results.

"This research by PayPal and CityU reveals an apparent disconnect between Hong Kong people's high interest in using online and mobile payment methods with their low awareness and readiness to protect themselves against the potential risks," said Charles Mok, Chairman of the Internet Society Hong Kong. "As Hongkongers spend more of their professional and personal time online, we must work together to raise awareness of online risks and help people safeguard themselves against fraud."