2012 Online Safety Survey – Majority Of Americans Do Not Feel Completely Safe Online

From tweens and teens to silver surfers, more people are jumping onto multiple Internet connected devices every day.  It’s very exciting to see the proliferation of information sharing and communication between people on these devices at any time. Since October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, it’s a good reminder of the challenge we face with many Americans still not stopping to think about the minimum security needs before they connect.

The latest online safety survey of U.S. consumers that National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) partnered with McAfee to conduct shows the scope of the issue. As more devices are being used on the go and by employees, this survey reveals every day disconnects between consumer’s online safety perceptions and their actual practices.

Similar to keeping ourselves healthy, Americans are aware that they need safe and secure Internet-connected devices, but they aren’t keeping up with the required actions to stay safe online. This survey has telling signs of the additional education that is needed to foster a safer Internet experience:

  • A Safe Internet is Crucial to U.S. Economy: Ninety-percent of Americans agree that a safe and secure Internet is crucial to our nation’s economic security.
  • The Internet is Vital to American Jobs: Fifty-nine percent say their job is dependent on a safe and secure Internet and 79 percent say losing Internet access for 48 consecutive hours would be disruptive with 33 percent saying it would be extremely disruptive.
  • Yet a Majority of Americans Do Not Feel Completely Safe Online: Ninety-percent say they do not feel completely safe from viruses, malware and hackers while on the Internet.
  • Smartphone Use Grows, Security Lags: 63% feel their smartphones are safe from hackers yet – pointing to a strong disconnect – 57% have never backed up their devices by storing the information or data elsewhere and 63% have never installed security software or apps to protect against viruses or malware.
  • Bring Your Own Device Policies Lacking: 48% of employed Americans are allowed to use a personal tablet, smartphone or laptop to perform job functions and 31% can connect to their work network using these personal devices. However, 44% of employed say their employers do not have formal BYOD policies.
  • 25% Notified Data Was Exposed in Data Breach: One in four received notification by a business, online service provider or organization that their personally identifiable information (e.g. password, credit card number, email address, etc.) was lost or compromised because of a data breach.

The need for consumers to stay educated is necessary now more than ever with nearly nine in ten Americans using their computers for banking, stock trading or reviewing personal medical information. In a recent study by McAfee on the unprotected rates of PC users globally, the United States ranked the 5th least protected country. It also uncovered that there are 19.32% of Americans browsing the Internet without any protection, 12.25% of consumers have zero security protection installed and 7.07% have security software installed but disabled.

I hope these concerned netizens take the time during the next few weeks to learn more about keeping their devices, privacy and information protected.  McAfee is very excited to work with NCSA once again to bring these issues to the forefront and continue these efforts to educate the public on these very real threats to consumer’s privacy, identity and overall online safety.

For more information about this survey and tips for consumers, you can check out the:

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