UK firms are losing nearly £36bn a week in employee time as their staff deal with password management, says Symantec.

Research commissioned by the security firm and conducted by YouGov revealed that creating and remembering passwords, dealing with being locked out of accounts and resetting passwords when details are forgotten wastes 9.3 billion minutes a year.

On average, Brits are required to enter five passwords every day and more than half (52 percent) of those surveyed admit to using the same password for at least half of their online accounts.

Furthermore, 31 percent revealed they use easy-to-guess passwords that contain information that's commonly available on social networking sites, such as birth dates or address details. More than one in ten (13 percent) say they use their monther's maiden name as a password, while the same amount admit to using a pet's name.

Only just over a quarter (26 percent) use a random sequence of letters and numbers for their passwords, and 21 percent say they never use personal details in passwords.

"At a time when the importance of securing the information residing on corporate networks is higher than ever, weak passwords are leaving businesses open to a range of attacks, such as data loss, intellectual property theft, financial fraud and identity theft," said Christian Brindley, regional technical manager for Symantec's VeriSign Authentication group.

"The growing practice of using personal devices to access work applications and vice versa creates an additional element of risk for businesses. With more than half of British online citizens using the same password across multiple accounts, employees are making it increasingly easy for savvy cybercriminals to break into simple combinations and access information."

Symantec advised firms to ensure employees are using strong passwords, and to draw up and communicate policies designed to ensure corporate data remains safe.

See also: 41% of web users share online passwords