U.S. Consumers Rank Cybercrimes as Greater Threat to Future Generations Than Pandemics or Global Warming

U.S. Consumers Rank Cybercrimes as Greater Threat to Future Generations Than Pandemics or Global Warming

Many understand the importance of protecting their personal information online, but don't know where to start
concept of password protection

Securing sensitive personal data online has become increasingly important in recent years, especially with all of the time that people spend on apps and the internet. However, the sheer amount of effort it takes to do this well seems to be stopping most users from even starting — and it may cost them down the line.

Digital security company Aura revealed in a new survey that the majority of Americans (76%) understand the severity of data breaches.

Many would even go so far as to rank cyberwarfare (87%) as a greater threat to the safety and well-being of the next generation than global warming (77%) and COVID-19 or another pandemic (81%) — yet 34% of respondents admit they've stopped paying attention to data breaches simply because they happen so often.

Consumers with poor data security practices are at greater risk of cyberattacks

A recent survey from NortonLifeLock showed that two-thirds of U.S. consumers admit to spending too much time in front of a screen — but that only about a third take additional measures to keep their data safe. So, it's understandable why many of Aura's survey participants worry about data breaches (60%) and their personal information available online (52%).

Still, failure to tighten up these lax security measures and practices result in greater risk of digital crime. The report revealed that, of the 64% of respondents who have been victims of digital or cybercrime, about half of that group have opened emails from people they didn't know (51%) or downloaded files from unknown origins (50%).

Another survey conducted earlier this year by Onfido found that some online users would rather file their taxes or watch paint dry than maintain unique passwords for their online accounts. And according to Aura, this leaves consumers at even greater risk of cyberattacks, as a whopping 74% of those who don't maintain good password hygiene have also experienced digital crime.

Respondents want institutions to play a greater role in protecting their personal information online

Nearly 8 in 10 respondents (79%) agree that they can do more to protect their sensitive personal information online, but many don't do so because it takes too much time (36%) or because they don't know what to do at all (33%).

The issue of data protection is only exacerbated by the fact that many Americans don't trust institutions and companies to properly secure their information, particularly:

  • Health care providers (52%)
  • Financial institutions (45%)
  • Employers and schools (41%)
  • Streaming services (30%)
  • The government (29%)
  • Retailers and online shopping sites (25%)

And perhaps because of the pervasive presence of digital and cybercrime in the country, most adults believe that the protection of their sensitive personal information is a right that should be afforded to everyone for free (84%), and that the U.S. government is obligated to uphold these rights (80%).

A similar percentage of respondents — 83% — also agree that institutions like schools and employers should offer free data protection for members of their respective organizations.

Methodology: The Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 2,050 American adults (ages 18 and up) on behalf of Aura between Aug. 13-17, 2021. A separate question was fielded to 2,054 adults (ages 18 and older) between Sept. 9-13, 2021. Data was weighted where necessary to reflect actual proportions in the population.