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In the last year, more than a quarter of young internet users have lost their devices or had them stolen, with a third losing access to online accounts or suffering a loss of data privacy as a result, according to research by Kaspersky Lab.

17 per cent of the young people surveyed had lost their devices over the last 12 months, while 13 per cent have had them stolen, the survey results revealed.

While 14 per cent of users overall have experienced the loss or theft of a device, this rises to 26 per cent among users under the age of 24, the figures showed.

83 per cent of 16-to-24 year-olds said they suffered negative consequences afterwards, compared to an overall average of 77 per cent among those questioned.

Nearly a third of young users said they had their online accounts hacked as a result, while a quarter permanently lost personal images and videos and 24 per cent said they lost personal or sensitive information on their devices.

22 per cent of all users said they had been disciplined at work after losing a device that held business data, while 21 per cent found that financial details stored on their lost and stolen devices had been misused afterwards.

Despite these figures, however, only 40 per cent blocked their lost devices through their mobile operators, just 29 per cent remotely wiped their devices and only 15 per cent tried to track them down using ‘find my device’ software.

Kaspersky Lab’s principal security researcher David Emm warned users that a strong passcode is needed to keep thieves out.

“The vast majority of us store sensitive personal information on mobiles, whether that’s pictures of our loved ones, personal email messages, passwords to access our online bank account or other aspects of our daily lives,” he said.

“Unlike a traditional computer or laptop, a smartphone provides unrestricted access to our online accounts such as email, social networks, etc. – without the need for individual passwords. So, a weak PIN or passcode becomes a single point of failure, opening up our whole life to anyone who is able to gain access to the device.”

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