At least some consumers are paying attention to cybersecurity

A new Experian survey reveals lots of gaps, but not 100% cluelessness

Experian survey consumer awareness cybersecurity
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When it comes to cybersecurity, it's long been safe to assume that almost nobody is doing much of anything to protect themselves. But a new survey by credit-monitoring company Experian reveals that notion may no longer be completely accurate.

While the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, conducted by Edelman Berland in September 2015, reveals plenty of the kind of security holes that give professionals nightmares, it also showed that a significant number of people are now paying at least some attention to online security and privacy issues.

I don't think we'll ever get to fully secure online experience, but frankly, I expected far worse.

Awareness is there

For one thing, the vast majority of respondents now seem to be aware that cybersecurity is something they ought to be worried about. A whopping 93% say identity theft is a growing problem, for example, and more than 9 out of 10 (91%) believe that people should be more concerned about the issue (some 71% worry that it will happen to them). Almost three quarters (73%) are worried about making online purchases, and more than two-thirds (69%) say they're concerned about using public Wi-Fi and accessing online accounts.

Not surprisingly, though, the number of people actually taking action to address those concerns are smaller. A lot smaller. But they're still way more than I expected (maybe I'm just a pessimist about this stuff).

For example, almost 50% of respondents said they're taking more precautions than they did last year. But the most common precautions centered around offline information, with 91% saying they shred documents and 76% check their bank statements at least monthly to see if anything has gone missing.

More to the point, significant numbers of people seem willing to jump through hoops to keep their information secure. Some 85% claim to no longer keep their passwords and PINs in their purse, wallet, smartphone, or computer. If those responses reflect actual behavior, that's a big deal.

Similarly, fully half of respondents say they have password-protected all of their online devices. Almost 50% say they check to see if the websites they visit are secure, and 45% claim to close the web browser when they are finished using an online account. Again, if those numbers are an accurate picture of reality, they represent real improvement.

Heck, more than a third (36%) say they review privacy policies when notified of changes, and more than a quarter (28%) review privacy policies of mobile apps before downloading them. I didn't think anybody did that!

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