Rampant fears of identity theft, viruses and exposure stir little change
Malwarebytes, a global leader in real-time cyber protection, today released a new report Everyone’s Afraid of the Internet (and No One’s Sure What to do About it) that underscores how the online behaviors of consumers is often at odds with ensuring safety and privacy. Seventy percent of respondents have experienced some kind of cybersecurity threat such as online scams and viruses or malware, and roughly one tenth have experienced serious personal violations like stalkerware/spyware and ransomware. The research indicates a critical need for education across generations on how to protect themselves in an ever-evolving online world.
“Privacy and security are inextricably linked yet the general public has resigned itself to risk because of the overwhelming nature of threats,” said Marcin Kleczynski, Co-founder and CEO, Malwarebytes. “Education is the foundation. In cybersecurity, we have a special opportunity to break down the intricacies of cybersecurity and make protection approachable and accessible, thereby empowering individuals to take ownership and control of their online identities. Our mission at Malwarebytes is to provide trusted protection in an online world where nothing is for certain.”
The report demonstrates that as technology has advanced, so have people’s fear and anxiety of what risks they may experience as a result of their digital footprint. With new apps and technologies always emerging, individuals of all ages are unclear how to stay safe online—or if doing so is even possible.
“Just because the internet cannot be trusted doesn’t mean that we should give up. And yet, that’s exactly where we find ourselves today, with only 35% of people using antivirus tools, 24% using multi-factor authentication and 15% using a password manager,” said Oren Arar, VP of Consumer Privacy, Malwarebytes. “With meaningful education, we hope to change the public’s relationship with the internet, away from anxiety and together towards security.”
- Risky Behaviors: People readily give up a host of private info online by engaging in activities such as sharing their birthdate on social media (59%), interacting with strangers (54%) and taking quizzes that reveal personal info (45%).
- Online Fear is High: Everyone worries about online security threats, and nearly 80% say they are “very” concerned about the risks of being online. Only half feel confident in their ability to keep themselves safe. Financial and data breaches are people’s top concerns.
- Cognitive Dissonance: Despite high anxiety and the fact that 70% have experienced cybersecurity threats before, only a handful use cybersecurity tools, with the most dominant being antivirus at only 35%. In general, there’s a serious disconnect between people’s fears, their online behaviors and their general lack of cybersecurity protection.
- New Tech, New Fears: Generative AI and TikTok users aren’t sure they can trust these relatively new players just yet, especially given TikTok’s ownership. 69% of generative AI users and 63% of TikTok users are concerned their data might be misused or stolen.
- Identity Theft Anxiety: Identity theft ranks as people’s third biggest concern when it comes to online security, just behind fear of financial accounts and personal data being breached (both of which play into identity theft as well). 64% agree identity theft protection is one of the most important cybersecurity tools, but only 13% have it.
- Feeling Resigned: One in four respondents feel there’s no point in using cybersecurity tools given the vast number of threats, and 41% are unsure how cybersecurity tools can help protect them. Three in four parents feel they need better tools and education to keep kids safe online.
Dig into the full findings: https://try.malwarebytes.com/everyone-is-afraid-of-the-internet-report-2023/.
To better understand people’s attitudes and behaviors toward online safety and security, Malwarebytes commissioned an independent research study among 1,000 internet users ages 13-77 in North America. The survey asked users to dig deep into what they worry about when it comes to online security, what activities they typically engage in and what measures they take to stay safe online.
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