Concerns of Identity Theft, Personal Cybersecurity Keep Americans Up at Night

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Americans are more concerned with identity theft and personal cybersecurity than any other security threats, according to a survey released by the University of Phoenix on Monday. Respondents were also asked what threats concerned them more now than five years ago, and again more people cited identity theft and personal cybersecurity than any other.

Harris Poll surveyed over 2,000 people online in August for the University of Phoenix College of Criminal Justice and Security. It is worth noting that comparing on and offline threats as perceived by people online may yield different results than surveying people at the local community center.

Seventy percent of respondents said identity theft is among the areas they are most concerned with, while 61 percent said personal cybersecurity. Among other answers, 55 percent said terrorism, 47 percent said neighborhood crime, 44 percent said natural disasters, and 31 percent said organizational security, which includes corporate cybersecurity but not workplace violence.

Personal cybersecurity and identity theft, at 61 and 60 percent respectively, topped national security (50 percent) as the threats people are more concerned with than previously. Part of what could be contributing to this concern is the fallout of the massive data breaches at retail stores including Home Depot and Target.

Data breaches compromising people’s privacy had become regular items in mainstream news. Even governments are sources of personal cybersecurity mistrust for regular netizens, in light of the startling data collection practices of the NSA revealed in July.

A June report by the RAND corporation found that a shortage of cybersecurity professionals is increasing risk on a national level.

Service providers have recognized and begun responding to people’s concerns. Earlier this month Google, Dropbox, and the Open Technology Fund announced Simple Secure, which aims to improve consumer adoption rates of security tools, and security providers continue to be targeted in mergers and acquisitions.

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