Americans do worry about privacy and online security, but the proportion of households reporting security concerns fell from 84% in 2015 to 73% in 2017, according to new Census Bureau data.
Those who said privacy concerns stopped them from doing certain online activities dropped from 45% to 33%. On the other hand, online security violations are soaring. The number of significant breaches at U.S. businesses, government agencies, and other organizations reached over 1,300 in 2017, while in 2015 it was around 800. Some of the recent major data leaks include Equifax, Yahoo, Dropbox and the Democratic National Committee.
“Privacy breaches are definitely on the rise,” says Marty Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “Unfortunately, recent data shows a decline in security concerns, as people are becoming numb to growing threats, which can lead to even bigger data theft. People simply do not see the effects of large-scale breaches, as big companies prefer not to talk about them.”
Not surprisingly, victims of recent security breaches are much more likely to be worried about online security risks. In both 2015 and 2017, 70% of households affected by a hack said identity theft was a concern. However, in 2017, only 54% of households that were not identity theft victims said it was a concern, compared to 63% in 2015.
“If you’ve been hacked, you see how serious it can be. Criminals are learning new techniques and taking advantage of weak spots in the security of big organizations. While companies need to make sure their security policy is updated to counter such attacks, people need to take their own steps to protect their privacy,” says Kamden.
NordVPN recommends following some basic Internet safety rules:
° The first thing you should always see while doing any banking online or paying online is whether webpage URL starts with https. The “s” in the URL means that it is a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly.
° Stay away from public hotspots. It is very dangerous to enter one’s personal or financial information online while using a public internet connection. Free WiFi networks are common hunting grounds for attackers and data snoopers who try to access your personal information and use it for their benefit at your expense.
° Use a VPN. If you have to make a sensitive transaction on public WiFi, using a VPN is a must. In other cases, even on while on your home network, VPN is always a good idea. VPNs encrypt all the data you share across the internet on any website into a secure tunnel, making sure it’s safe from prying eyes and remains confidential.
° Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account setup is using strong passwords. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into your account and cause severe damage to you. Password managers help in keeping all passwords safe and encrypted.
In addition, it’s important to always update one’s software and use a firewall.