Nearly one-third of Internet users stay logged into social media sites, leaving themselves open to attacks, according to a new study.

In a voluntary survey of about 10,000 people worldwide, security software provider IObit found about 30 per cent of respondents always select the “Keep Me Logged In” option when logging into their accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites.

A whopping 45 per cent further admitted to only changing their passwords when required to do so, while 15 per cent never change their passwords. Another 10 per cent never clear browser cookies and cache. These lax habits can leave users vulnerable to hacking, IObit warns.

“Many people aren’t consciously aware that this small activity is threatening their personal privacy and security,” said IObit marketing director Michael Zhao in a press release.

“Keeping a strong, frequently changed password is the best guardian for one’s social media accounts. It should therefore be taken seriously and kept well protected … A strong password and a good habit in password management is the simplest and the most effective method.”

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Business managers may want to take note, especially if they have employees managing company social media accounts.

Last month, the Associated Press Twitter account fell victim to what became an extremely high-profile hacking. Twitter users took note when the account tweeted, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” At the time of the tweet, AP had about 1.9 million followers.

Although the account was suspended soon afterwards, media and bloggers were quick to outline what can go wrong when a major brand is hacked on a social media site. The offending AP tweet was retweeted thousands of times, and the Dow Jones dipped sharply for a few minutes before correcting itself.

While the AP account seems to have been hacked via a phishing scheme, it doesn’t hurt to remind employees to practice good password hygiene. Change passwords regularly, don’t leave accounts logged in, and do a periodic clearing of browser cookies and cache. It’s a simple and basic way to safeguard the privacy and security of company accounts.

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  • Stuntman06

    Keeping strong, frequently changed passwords will make it so hard for me to remember them that I would have to write it down on a piece of paper and tape it to my computer for everyone to see.