Have you had one – or many – of your accounts hacked? According to a report from Pew Research Center, a vast majority of Americans have.
In fact, the study also shows that people believe cyberattacks are a way of life in today’s world. This may be a surprise to some, while to others it may not. In fact, 35 percent of respondents have had a form of sensitive information compromised or stolen, while 41 percent have seen fraudulent charges on their credit cards, likely from identity theft.
That information is concerning, to say the least. It also explains why so many Americans are wary of sharing sensitive data with organizations.
Who Can Protect Our Data?
Another thing the study revealed is that most Americans feel institutions just cannot and will not protect their data. As many as 28 percent of Americans feel the federal government is not capable of keeping their data safe from cybercriminals.
A further 24 percent believe social media platforms cannot protect their personal data accurately, either.
However – and perhaps this is even more interesting – respondents claim they are not overly worried about cyberattacks. About 60 percent say that the thought of being hacked does not cause them any anxiety. Does this lend more credence to the idea that it’s a way of life now?
Think for a moment: How many times you have received an email or notice that one of your accounts has been compromised? How many times have you been a victim of identity theft or fraud, especially with credit cards?
It is frighteningly prevalent. Worse yet, cybercrime damage is expected to surpass $6 trillion by 2021. That’s a significant jump from $3 trillion in 2015.
The increased frequency in cyberattacks has also given birth to many advanced security protocols that work against a hacker or thief’s favor.
Virtual identity servers (VIS) are one such solution, and one that is becoming more common in business circles. VIS systems can combine data from multiple sources to provide one comprehensive database view, while simultaneously adding additional security and control over the original data sources. This architecture can also reduce IT expenses, which likely has something to do with its popularity.
What Other Security Protocols Work?
The best way to prevent access to a personal account is to enable two-step or two-factor authentication if it’s available. Any time you want to login from a new device or new location, the system will send a randomly generated code. You must also enter this code – on top of your account and password info – to gain access. Usually, you can have the code sent to your mobile device.
In the Pew report, about half of all respondents – 52 percent – said they use two-step authentication to protect their online accounts where applicable.
That doesn’t mean people always take the necessary precautions. In fact, many respondents revealed they are not doing everything they should to beef up their digital security. Only 12 percent said they change their passwords regularly. This is important, especially if you use the same password across multiple accounts – which is something you should never do.
Less than half – or 41 percent – admitted to sharing their password for online accounts with a friend or family member. This is a definite no because even if you do everything you can to protect your password, there’s no guarantee anyone else who knows it will. The solution to this is pretty simple: don’t share your passwords.
However, an egregious 39 percent admitted to using the same password for all accounts. As we already said, you should never do this. If one account is compromised, then hackers have access to all your accounts. The first thing they’ll try is a password they already have.
What’s the Biggest Takeaway?
What you need to learn from all this is that Americans – and likely a lot of others – do not trust institutions to protect their data. This is not a good thing, believe us, especially since big data is starting to catch on.
It may even be time for organizations to start educating clientele on good personal security habits.
If you don’t trust companies to protect your data, take these steps to help ensure your safety. They can make a big difference and give you a little extra peace of mind.