Consumers and Internet Security: Fear and Resignation [Part 2]

Another day, another account hacked. It’s all over the news. For most of us, the data we put on the internet may not be as sought after and sensitive. So we wondered, how do U.S. internet users feel about the security of their online data?

We used Google Consumer Surveys to ask 400 U.S. online consumers the following question:

Which of the following statements best describes how you feel about the security of your information on the internet?

I am sure I am going to be hacked
I take every precaution
I put as little information as possible
I don’t worry about it
The internet is secure enough
Other (please specify)

Scaled responses were randomized to prevent order bias. As we reported last week, we found that 39% percent of U.S. online consumers put as little personal information as possible on the internet. An additional 17% say they take every precaution against being hacked. On the other hand, 29% of online consumers said they are sure they are going to be hacked, 8% say they don’t worry about it, and 7% believe the Internet is “secure enough.”

But who are these people?

Regarding gender, about the same percentage of males as females say they “put as little information as possible on the internet.” However, males are much more likely to say they “Don’t worry about it” or that “ the internet is secure enough” than are females – 31% to 21%. So it is not surprising that more females than males believe they will be hacked: 12% of females believe they will be hacked while only 6% of males agree.

internet_security_attitudes_by_gender

Interestingly, internet security attitudes did not vary significantly by age:

Statement 18 – 24 25 – 34 35 – 44 45 – 54 55 – 64 65+
I am sure I am going to be hacked 0% 10% 13% 8% 6% 0%
The internet is secure enough 25% 28% 22% 33% 29% 38%
I don’t worry about it 31% 30% 41% 35% 46% 52%
I take every precaution 31% 21% 19% 13% 13% 7%
I put as little information as possible 13% 10% 5% 10% 6% 3%

And finally, income. If you thought that those with higher incomes would be more concerned about internet security, you would be wrong: lower-income and higher-income individuals are most like to say “the internet is secure enough.” But they are also the ones more likely to say “I am sure I am going to be hacked”! In fact, those with incomes under $75K are much more likely to say they put “as little information as possible” on the internet and those with incomes under $50K are more likely to say they “take every precaution” about internet security.internet_security_attitudes_by_income

So, in summary, gender seems to be the main difference between individuals who are concerned about the security of their personal information on the internet and those who are not. And even then, the differences are not large. So don’t expect to see internet security companies targeting women anytime soon!

Given the prevalence of data breaches and internet hacking, it is somewhat surprising that so many individuals seem to believe they have Internet security under control, or who are resigned to the lack of security. Consumers should beware and take precautions against internet security breakdowns. All signs seem to point toward them not going away shortly!

 

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