New Consumer Survey Shows High Anxiety about Online Security Does Not Translate into Action

October 21, 2016
A new consumer study concluded that two-thirds of Americans believe themselves to be tech savvy, although their actions with regard to online security indicate otherwise – with millennials being the worst offenders. The study, commissioned by Arbor Networks Inc., the security division of NETSCOUT (NASDAQ: NTCT), also revealed broad anxiety among Americans about their personal online safety as cyber-attacks become increasingly mainstream, with at least 75% of adults being concerned about their security, privacy, malware or websites tracking them. With a focus on measuring Americans’ online security aptitude, the research examined the viewpoints of 2,056 American adults on topics such as security concerns and incidents, computer and password protection, online practices and impact to their shopping habits. Christopher Gaebler, Chief Marketing Officer at Arbor Networks, commented, “The big takeaway from this survey is that the relentless headlines about cyber-attacks have led to anxiety among a vast majority of Americans. Ironically, this has not driven people to do more to protect themselves online, but quite the contrary, as the study also suggested these same people have really poor online security practices -- which only makes the attackers jobs easier. Although cyber-attacks are becoming more common, consumers are not powerless. In fact, there are basic steps people can take to protect themselves from the majority of online security threats.” While American adults are not taking all of the steps they could to protect themselves by following best practices while online, the prevalence of cyber incidents has led them to hold businesses to high standards of protecting their personal information. In fact, over 70% say they would think twice about shopping at a retail store that had been a victim of a cyber-attack. KEY FINDINGS: Americans have high standards of businesses when it comes to online security: • 71% agree if they hear that a retail store was a victim of a cyber security incident involving customers’ information, it makes them think twice about shopping there. However, the anxiety and expectations have not translated into action: • 64% say if they are on a major retail or social networking website, they always consider their information to be safe. Among millennials, its 71%. • 55% say if they receive an email from someone they know with a link, they usually click it even if they weren’t expecting anything. • 55% agree if they were to be hacked, they wouldn’t know what to do. Among millennials its 66% • 36% say they do not think twice about sharing their personal information, such as addresses, locations, birthdays, kids’ and parents’ names and vacation plans on social media channels. Among Millennials, its 50%. What’s driving the dislocation? For starters, a relentless flow of negative headlines, corporate and government breaches: • 80% agree that if the federal government can be hacked, they don’t think they can protect themselves. • 39% agree that they don’t worry about being hacked because they are not important enough for anyone to care about their information. That’s 50% for Millennials. • 36% said they were victims of hacking. That’s 44% of Millennials. Survey Scope and Demographics • Responses from 2,056 American adults, aged 18 and older • Online survey was conducted between September 20-22, 2016 by Regina Corso Consulting on behalf of Arbor Networks
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