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Would You Give Up Sex for Digital Security?

Many Americans worry about falling victim to hackers, malware or identity thieves. Some are so concerned, it seems, that they'd be happy to give up sex for a year if it meant they never worry about digital security again.

Credit: Piotr Pakula/Shutterstock

(Image credit: Piotr Pakula/Shutterstock)

That's according to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll for the password-management company Dashlane. More than 2,000 American adults were polled, and 39 percent said they'd give up nookie for 12 months for guaranteed safety. Slightly more, 41 percent, would forego their favorite food for a month rather than have to reset all their passwords.

As you might imagine, there were some gender and age differences. While 44 percent of women would opt for the sex-free year, only 34 percent of men would. Surprisingly, 43 percent of people aged 18-34 of both genders would go the celibate route, somewhat more than their older, and apparently friskier, counterparts.

MORE: Best Password Managers

That doesn't mean younger people aren't digitally intimate. Fully 64 percent of them admitted to sharing a password with someone else, as opposed to only 37 percent of adults over 35. As you might imagine, passwords for email accounts and for streaming services such as Netflix or HBO GO were the most frequently shared.

On the bright side, very few people had shared passwords for online bank accounts (9 percent) or insurance accounts (6 percent).

Unfortunately, many of those passwords probably weren't very good. About 31 percent of respondents admitted using a pet's name for a password, and those who'd used family members' names, birthdays or familiar sequences of numbers (such as 123456) were each a bit more than 20 percent of respondents.

Surprisingly, less than 10 percent of respondents admitted to using names of sports teams, though that rate was double among men than it was for women. And only 4 percent admitted to using four-letter words.

To really practice safe digital hygiene, you'll want to create strong, long, unique passwords for every account that holds sensitive data, such as social media, online email, banking or retail sites. Here's our guide to creating strong passwords.

But if you'd rather not do so, or think you'd have trouble remembering all those passwords, then you'll want to use a password manager. You'll have to remember only one password — and it had better not involve a familiar numerical sequence, your pet's name, your favorite team's name or even any four-letter words.

Then you can finally stop worrying about your online safety, flick on the Netflix … and chill.