Americans Say Cyber-Attacks Are a Threat But Don’t Protect Themselves

Americans Say Cyber-Attacks Are a Threat But Don't Protect Themselves

Many Americans don’t feel they personally are at much risk of a cyberattack, despite awareness of the headlines.

Research from ReportLinker reveals that despite all the warnings from IT security experts, the two most popular passwords people use to secure their digital devices and accounts are “123456” and “password.” These two are at the top of the list for the fifth straight year—a state of affairs that dovetails with survey results showing that 55% of Americans feel their data is safe from hackers.

These findings come as two-thirds agree cyberattacks are more of a threat now than they were five years ago. Awareness is on the rise largely because of several high-profile corporate data breaches, including the largest one of the year, at Yahoo.

But beyond the headlines, ReportLinker’s survey suggests a lack of granular threat intelligence on the part of consumers. US respondents mentioned smart devices only 31% of the time as being most vulnerable to cyberattacks. Rather, respondents believe desktops/laptops (46% of mentions) and smartphones (42% of mentions) are more vulnerable.

One reason Americans may feel somewhat less threatened by hackers is their perception of who is at risk. More than a third of survey respondents—36%—believe hackers mostly target the government, , while 46% of 45-54 year-olds and 39% of those 65 and older believe corporations are the primary targets for hackers.

With more information in the cloud, however, privacy becomes a greater concern. Americans do take steps to protect their personal information from hackers and cyberattacks, but perhaps not enough. More than half of US respondents (58%) say they use encryption or privacy tools, while the rest say they don’t bother.

And many seem to prefer simple solutions. Strong passwords and locked phones are the privacy tools mentioned most frequently by US respondents to ReportLinker’s survey. By contrast, better security tools appear to be favored less. Two-factor authentication garnered just 13% of mentions in the ReportLinker survey, followed by HTTPS-encrypted websites (12% of mentions) and encrypted apps (texting or calling), which were mentioned just 7% of the time.

Photo © Gustavo Frazao

Source: Information Security Magazine