Passwords to VPNs: The UK’s most misunderstood online security topics

Online passwords are the most misunderstood aspect of online security, with more than three quarters (78%) mistakenly believing their passwords are completely safe if kept with a large company. And with more of our data stored online, debunking myths around protecting it has never been more important.


After testing over 2,000 UK residents on widespread internet security myths from online banking to public WiFi, determined which topics caused the most confusing subjects for Brits, from online gaming to VPNs.


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The most confusing internet topics

Rank Topic Average Brits believing myth (%)
1 Online passwords 46%
2 VPN 44%
3 Public WiFi 43%
4 Mobile phones 38%
5 Online gaming 36%
6 5G 32%
7 Full fibre 24%
8 Online banking 13%


Online passwords are the most misunderstood topic surveyed, with almost half (46%) of Brits believing each myth around their passwords on average. With passwords functioning as the first line of security for any online account, it’s clear that misinformation is preventing many UK residents from properly managing and building a safe, secure presence on the internet.


Online banking is the topic Brits are most secure in. Only 13% believed each myth on average, with the misconception that banking online is less secure than banking in-person being most commonly believed, by one in four (26%) UK residents.


VPNs are among the confusing aspects of internet security


Seven in 10 (71%) of Brits are unaware that a virtual private network (VPN) can prevent an online session being hijacked on public WiFi8]. When a session is hijacked, hackers are able to observe any browsing on your device, as well as passwords, financial details and private information. Three quarters (75%) of over 55s are unaware of this advantage of using VPNs, meaning older generations may be less informed of the methods that help build their online security.


Misconceptions around VPNs are especially common, with myths surrounding them taking the fourth and fifth position. Two thirds of UK residents are unaware that they can be utilised to disguise personal data from hackers (67%), and that they make browsing on public WiFi generally safer (66%).



Nick Baker, broadband expert at, comments on how to improve your online security.

As internet security gets stronger, scammers and hackers have, in turn, gotten better at evading it. But there are precautions that anyone can take to improve their safety online.


“Invest in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN uses remote servers to create a private network only you can access. This means that anybody monitoring your session won’t be able to access any private data, and your online presence can’t be traced back to you. See our online guide for VPNs for all the pros of using a VPN for your internet safety, like how they provide access to regionally locked content that users cannot get otherwise, such as shows on streaming services or online games


“Use virus protection: Most laptops and computers have free antivirus software built in, and add some security when browsing online. However, paying for antivirus software will offer tighter defences against malware, and in some cases offers additional tools like password managers.


“Create longer passwords: Hackers have improved tools to guess passwords, so the more characters there are in a password, the longer it will take to crack. It’s equally important to create different passwords for your accounts, to make sure that one exposed password doesn’t make all your logins vulnerable.”

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