Proof that women are smarter than men (about security)

Picture illustration.

Picture illustration.  (REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski )

Men make a lot of mistakes, and it appears they're more likely than women to let crooks access sensitive information. According to a recent survey, guys are almost twice as likely as women to store passwords or PINs to credit cards, debit cards, online bank accounts and other online accounts on their smartphones, tablets and laptops -- a poor security habit that could lead to chaos if one of those devices were stolen or hacked into.

This is according to a survey jointly conducted by the U.K. division of Equifax and the London-based research firm Gorkana, which questioned 500 British persons of all ages, according to The Register. The study found that 21 percent of male respondents stored passwords on their devices, compared to 11 percent of females, and that 14 percent of men stored their credit- or debit-card PIN numbers, as opposed to 7 percent of female respondents. (Most credit cards in Europe require a PIN to use.)

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While the companies didn't completely explain how those users were improperly storing that sensitive information, we can presume Equifax and Gorkana meant that respondents were keeping login credentials in a plaintext note-taking software such as Windows' Notepad, iOS's Notes or Google Keep. Anyone who got a look at those files would have access to the credentials.

It's possible that the numbers also include users of encrypted password managers like LastPass or 1Password, but those people would be following better security practices and normally wouldn't be worth worrying about.

The survey found significant differences in how younger and older users handled sensitive information. Thirty-eight percent of respondents 18 to 24 stored passwords to online accounts on their devices, as opposed to 16 percent of users overall.

Twenty-one percent of the 18-to-24-year olds admitted to storing credit- and debit-card PIN numbers on their devices. Older users seemed less likely to do so; only 10 percent of all respondents kept PINs on their devices.