November 7, 2017 Last Updated 10:30 am

Survey: Americans perceive cyber crimes as being on the rise

Earlier this year, a ReportLinker survey* found that few Americans had heard of Edward Snowden and that government and big corporations were the main targets of hackers, but a new report shows that concern over cybersecurity is most definitely on the rise

According to research recently conducted by ReportLinker involving 539 online US respondents, Americans are, at least in some ways, more concerned about cyber security than they were five years ago. Yet, in other ways, many Americans may have more to worry about than they believe.

One of the big problems with remaining digitally secure is the temptation, which a lot of people give in to, is to use a super-easy password, one that can be remembered without fail. The problem here is that hackers are savvy about this tendency, and they are adept at figuring out people’s easy passwords (which tend to be things like “123456” or simply the word “password”, or maybe their last name). Yet, more than half (54%) of respondents replied that they generally feel safe from cyber criminals stealing their personal information including bank account numbers, social security numbers, and debit card pin numbers.

On the other hand, 82% of respondents said they feel that cyber crime has been on the rise in the last five years. In addition, 16% said that they feel “very unsafe” concerning their digital security.

Nevertheless, cyber attacks on a big level that jeapordise individuals’ privacy and data security (which includes their financial security) happen far more frequently than the typical individual supposes. What’s more, the Internet of Things (IoT) world that we’re gradually moving into is very likely to just make individuals’ cyber security far more uncertain, as has already been demonstrated.

Yet, even among respondents who show concern over their cyber security, the vast majority are still thinking of hackers in the “old” way. A mere nine 9% are worried about criminal hackers’ ability to infiltrate “smart devices”, the kind that are going to fairly soon be as ubiquitous as the Internet, laptops, and smartphones are today.

One of the reasons that respondents aren’t all that worried about having their private information breached has to do with the perception shared by more than half of them (52%) that cyber criminals almost always limit their targets to the government or corporations. Less than half (47%) expressed awareness that hackers attack individuals just as readily.

Moreover, more people are using the Cloud now, although more than one-third (34%) say they aren’t using any Cloud services at all. As convenient and useful as these services are, if a service provider’s security protocols get breached it could spell disaster for millions of users in terms of their cyber security.

Add to these above unique vulnerabilities of the Internet Age the fact that the US government has been proven to be addicted to spying on its citizenry, and it’s clear that many Americans need to be more vigilant about how they protect themselves digitally. But, it’s a positive thing that more than three-fourths (78%) of Americans do take measures to protect their identity online, and 52% agree that it all starts with strong passwords. They ought to be chosen with care, be at least somewhat complicated, and be written down offline (preferably on a paper notepad). It’s also prudent to change passwords periodically, such as every six months.

** To read the earlier survey report from ReportLinker, click here.

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