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Americans are showing an interesting disconnect in their perception of personal cybersecurity.

More than four in 10 (43 percent) U.S. adults have experienced a personal data breach in the past three years, according to a recent University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology cybersecurity survey.

The lack of confidence in security is both personal and professional terms; nearly half (46 percent) of respondents said they feel less secure from personal cyberattacks than they did five years ago, more than a quarter (26 percent) feel their workplace is less secure, and 56 percent feel the country as a whole is less secure.

Nearly Half of Americans Feel Less Secure from Cyberattacks Yet Aren’t Taking the Right Precautions To Protect Their Online Identities

This lack of cybersecurity confidence makes sense. Our nation has experienced a constant uptick in ransomware attacks, malware, and personal and business data breaches. Meanwhile, cybersecurity spending is expected to grow nearly three times the national average in 10 years to keep pace.

Americans Changing Habits Due to Cybercrime

The survey found that many Americans are taking steps to prevent data breaches.

Eighty-six percent of respondents said cybercrime has affected their online habits in some way. In practice, 61 percent ignore or delete suspicious emails, nearly half (49 percent) avoid clickbait and pop ups, and 43 percent don’t give up personal information online.

However, only a little more than one-third limit use of devices on public Wi-Fi (36 percent) and update their passwords regularly (35 percent).

Nearly Half of Americans Feel Less Secure from Cyberattacks Yet Aren’t Taking the Right Precautions To Protect Their Online Identities

Proactive Ways to Avoid Mistakes That May Lead to Hacking

Avoiding clickbait and limiting use of public Wi-Fi are good ways to mitigate hacking opportunities, but people need to be aware of the mistakes they make online that leave them vulnerable to data breaches and how to avoid making those mistakes.

One of the first steps is to change passwords and make sure it is a secure password. Only 35 percent of U.S. adults update passwords on a regular basis. Additionally, only a quarter or less are taking other security measures like changing privacy settings (25 percent) or investing in online protection software (24 percent).

Consumers can also protect information by limiting what personal information they share as well as limiting connections to the people they know. A good way to do this is to set profiles to private.

Other good practices for online cybersecurity include updating security settings to include multi-factor authentication, installing antivirus, and using a VPN or firewall.

While these are good steps to help mitigate the likelihood of being hacked, there is no definitive way to prevent data breaches from occurring. People need to take proactive measures to update their security and stay one step ahead of cyber criminals.

Technology is constantly evolving and those with malicious intents to invade a system are keeping pace. It is important that people take the proper proactive steps to prevent data breaches and constantly learn to prevent them from happening in the future.


Dennis BonillaAbout the Author: Dennis Bonilla is the Executive Dean at the College of Information Systems and Technology and School of Business, University of Phoenix. You can connect with him on Twitter here: @DennisBonillaIT.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this and other guest author articles are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.