Americans Are Doing Whatever They Can to Keep Themselves Cybersafe (Part 2)
This is part two of a three-part series based on primary research we conducted in Spring 2020. This survey of approximately 250 U.S. consumers was conducted to understand Americans’ top concerns just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting.
In part one, we shared what consumers think about cybersecurity and responsibility. Here, we look at what individuals are doing to protect themselves. In part three, we present our conclusions and insights based on the data and some parting food for thought as we move forward in a world that will look very different in the months and years to come.
Consumers understand cybersecurity.
On a scale of clueless to expert, most respondents rated themselves as understanding cybersecurity with a moderate amount of knowledge (avg. 52 on 1 to 100 scale). Women reported slightly less understanding, while seniors reported more. This difference might be the result of safety campaigns aimed at the elderly because they are perceived as being highly vulnerable.
Women averaged 46 and men averaged 57, meaning women were slightly less likely to feel confident about their understanding of cybersecurity. Interestingly, this didn’t change with age. At a time when most young people have grown up with cybersecurity being part of the threat mix, 18-29-year-olds averaged 50, while 30-44-year-olds averaged 52, 45-60-year-olds averaged 51 and 60+ averaged a whopping 63. This is particularly interesting because other research shows millennials are more at risk than any other cohort.
Most consumers take personal responsibility for their cybersecurity.
When asked who is responsible for personal cybersecurity, most people state they are taking responsibility (90%). That’s a high number and speaks to the efficacy of raising awareness about the problem. While we can’t determine the effectiveness of their efforts, it is reassuring to know this is an issue that’s top-of-mind for most consumers.
What might be more interesting is consumers are helping others protect themselves. In the U.S., 89% of our population is online, and that includes children and seniors with a multitude of devices.
As anyone with a child or older parent can attest, deploying cybersecurity tools often requires assistance from someone who knows what’s going on. Almost half of the respondents (48%) help their partners, 39% kids, 26% parents and 9% friends. They even help others at work (19%).
As consumers stay vigilant, here’s what can be done.
Stay informed about cybersecurity issues. The US Federal Trade Commission keeps their site up to date with important information for consumers.
Advocate for change with your local representatives. Make sure you political leaders hear from you. Start with your Congressman or Congresswomen (House of Representatives) and then your Senators. You can find out who represents you here.
Demand the businesses you use take cybersecurity seriously. Ask questions, compare services, see if the business has had a breach in the past, much like you might check their Better Business Bureau rating. It might feel like a lot, but this information is readily available today. And importantly companies must hear from consumers to know we care.
Hold businesses accountable if there’s been a breach. They need to hear from you.
In part three, we look at opportunities to use cybersecurity differently – as a competitive advantage – as we move forward in a world that will look very different in the months and years to come. For more on the survey, click here to download the report.
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VP, Security Strategy, Business Development and Marketing
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