“Cell phones are so convenient that they’re an inconvenience.” ― Haruki Murakami
In the past fifty years, humans have gone from computers that took up entire rooms and were strictly the domain of governments and corporations, to having computers conveniently located on your wrists that even children can use. “Typing class” of the 20thcentury has been replaced with coding, robotics, app development and other STEAM curricula for students as young as elementary school.
That is a lot of innovation in a short amount of time, practically the blink of an eye. One of the drawbacks to having such incredible advancements in a relatively small window is that security and privacy considerations have struggled to keep pace with the new capabilities.
Kaspersky has now released a new report on a phenomenon called “cyber-stress,” which refers to the very tangible emotional toll that things like identity theft, data breaches, and hacking events can take on consumers. The Identity Theft Resource Center, which operates a toll-free call center and a live chat app for victims of identity theft, has also tracked the emotional fallout from discovering that someone has stolen your personal identifiable information.
According to the findings in the Kaspersky survey:
– 81 percent of Americans and 72 percent of Canadians report that news of data breaches causes them to feel stressed
– The average respondent reports that they manage at least sixteen different username and password combinations, which can lead to weak password security and “reusing” passwords
– 46 percent of Millennials find it stressful to manage the number of passwords they maintain
– The average household now has more connected devices than people, and 75 percent of respondents say that protecting all these devices from outside threats has caused them stress
This might seem like overkill or a lot of reactionary worry over statistically minor issues. However, the opposite is true; the ITRC tracked more than 1,500 separate data breaches last year alone and 46 percent of the respondents to the Kaspersky survey said they had been personally impacted by some kind of cybersecurity threat. Thirty-three percent of those who’d been affected by a cyber-attack stated that they continue to experience stress about protecting themselves from future attacks.
Part of this ongoing emotional impact may be attributed to the fact that new data breaches continue to occur. The Equifax data breach compromised more than 145 million consumer records, while new point-of-sale hacking shows that the “old school” method of targeting consumers’ payment cards is not going away. This stress may even be an opposing reaction to a recognized form of apathy towards protecting yourself known as data breach fatigue, which occurs when the news surrounding too many data breaches is simply overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are resources for consumers to turn to and trustworthy options to provide help. Significant numbers of respondents stated that they trusted friends, family members or spouses with their personal data, which means they have someone they can turn to in a cyber-stress situation. Many young adults and teenagers claimed that they would immediately turn to their parents in a cyberattack situation, providing them with a trustworthy outlet for support. Of course, advocates like those at the ITRC can provide consumers of any demographic with solid resources in the event of a cyber-related issue.
Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.