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EMF Studies

18 February 2017

Americans and Cybersecurity

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Americans and Cybersecurity
by Kenneth Olmstead and Aaron Smith, pewresearch.org,m 26 January 2017

Many Americans do not trust modern institutions to protect their personal data – even as they frequently neglect cybersecurity best practices in their own personal lives

Cyberattacks and data breaches are facts of life for government agencies, businesses and individuals alike in today’s digitized and networked world. Just a few of the most high-profile breaches in 2016 alone include the hacking and subsequent release of emails from members of the Democratic National Committee; the release of testing records of dozens of athletes conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency; and the announcement by Yahoo that hackers had accessed the private information associated with roughly 1 billion email accounts. Finally, in late 2016 and early 2017 U.S. intelligence agencies (the FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security) both issued statements and testified before Congress that the Russian government was involved in the hack of the DNC with the aim of influencing the 2016 presidential election.

Previous Pew Research Center studies of the digital privacy environment have found that many Americans fear they have lost control of their personal information and many worry whether government agencies and major corporations can protect the customer data they collect. As part of this ongoing series of studies on the state of online privacy and security, the Center conducted a national survey of 1,040 adults in the spring of 2016 to examine their cybersecurity habits and attitudes. This survey finds that a majority of Americans have directly experienced some form of data theft or fraud, that a sizeable share of the public thinks that their personal data have become less secure in recent years, and that many lack confidence in various institutions to keep their personal data safe from misuse. In addition, many Americans are failing to follow digital security best practices in their own personal lives, and a substantial majority expects that major cyberattacks will be a fact of life in the future. Among the key findings:

A majority of Americans (64%) have personally experienced a major data breach, and relatively large shares of the public lack trust in key institutions – especially the federal government and social media sites – to protect their personal information

Data security is a personal issue for many Americans: The survey finds that a majority of the public has noticed or been notified of a major data breach impacting their sensitive accounts or personal data. The survey examined several different types of data theft and found that 64% of U.S. adults have been impacted by at least one of them:

  • 41% of Americans have encountered fraudulent charges on their credit cards.
  • 35% have received notices that some type of sensitive information (like an account number) had been compromised.
  • 16% say that someone has taken over their email accounts, and 13% say someone has taken over one of their social media accounts.
  • 15% have received notices that their Social Security number had been compromised.
  • 14% say that someone has attempted to take out loans or lines of credit in their name.
  • 6% say that someone has impersonated them in order to file fraudulent tax returns.

And beyond these specific experiences, roughly half of Americans (49%) feel that their personal information is less secure than it was five years ago. Around one-in-five (18%) feel that their information has gotten more secure in recent years, while 31% feel that their information is about as safe as it was five years ago. Americans age 50 and older are especially likely to feel that their personal information has become less safe in recent years: 58% of Americans in this age group express this opinion, compared with 41% of those ages 18 to 49.

Continue reading:
http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/01/26/americans-and-cybersecurity/

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