Americans are more stressed out about cyber risk, identity theft and personal privacy than they are about their own personal safety, according to a recently released survey by Travelers.
With an alarming one in four respondents of the survey believing that they have been victims of cyber- or ID-theft crimes, it’s no surprise that consumers rank identity theft-related concerns second only to financial concerns. As a consumer, knowing and understanding your most prevalent risks will help you mitigate your exposure to cyber, identity theft and personal privacy risks. As a business, a focus on cyberpreparedness, including strong security best practices, can set your business ahead of the competition – which can improve customer loyalty and retention.
- Financial concerns and risks. Americans list financial security as their top concern for the third straight year. Of the 66 percent that worry about this issue, almost half worry a great deal.
- Personal privacy or identity theft. Six out of 10 Americans worry about losing personal information or privacy, with 25 percent worrying a great deal.
- Cyber risk. There has been a dramatic increase in how many Americans worry about cyber risk, from 36 percent in 2014 to 57 percent in 2015. The list of specific cyber-risk concerns includes the fear of bank accounts being hacked (62 percent), virus attacks (60 percent), offline identity theft (59 percent), online identity theft (59 percent) and the loss of personal information from retailers being hacked (58 percent).
- Personal safety. People also said they worry about their personal safety. Fifty-one percent worry about it at to some degree, with 14 percent worrying about it a great deal.
I find it interesting in the current environment of breach fatigue – in which consumers have begun to ignore data-breach and identity-theft headlines — consumers are more concerned about personal privacy, identity theft and cyber risk over that of their personal safety. Additional research found that consumers also were concerned about their medical information and tax information, as 43 percent of consumers were worried about their medical records being breached. Forty percent of consumers were worried about taxpayer ID theft and refund fraud.
Finally, it’s extremely important to keep your operating systems, Web browsers, firewalls and anti-virus software up to date. As an example, many consumers still use Windows XP to access financial accounts. Microsoft discontinued support for Windows XP last year, leaving it vulnerable as cybercriminals continue to create Windows XP exploits that Microsoft no longer releases patches for.
Mark’s Most Important: Consumers concerned about identity theft and cyber risks need to hold businesses accountable for the strength of their cyber- and ID-theft prevention and mitigation programs.
Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., an ID theft-background screening company based in Phoenix. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published on AZcentral.com and republished with the author’s permission.
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