Cyber-Security Worries Rise Among U.S. Consumers

Other results from the survey indicate that a majority of Americans (57 percent) continue to believe the world is becoming riskier.

cyber security and consumers

Cyber related concerns grew by more than 20 percentage points from last year, moving from fifth to third place on the list of overall concerns tracked by The Travelers Companies’ third annual Consumer Risk Index.

The survey of 1,029 adults found that one in four Americans say they have been the victim of a data breach or cyber-attack.

Other results from the survey indicate that a majority of Americans (57 percent) continue to believe the world is becoming riskier.

Women, more than men, see the world becoming riskier, as do people over the age of 40. Financial security is the top concern for the third consecutive year, while many Americans also remain worried about distracted driving and severe weather.

"While not surprising to someone who lives and breathes cyber, I think it is telling that the results of the third annual Travelers Consumer Risk Index reveals a significantly higher number of people worried about cyber risks," Tim Francis, Travelers enterprise lead for cyber insurance, told eWEEK.

Of the cyber risks that were listed as potential concerns, respondents worried the most about their bank accounts being hacked.

Americans under the age of 55 are generally more likely to worry a great deal about cyber risks than those over 55.

"While I can’t predict if Americans will become more worried about cyber-security in the coming years people often think it won’t happen to me, but as more news of cyber-attacks comes out, we will likely see more people worried that they could personally be impacted," Francis said. "One of the purposes of the Index is to help people address some of their greatest concerns and identify simple steps to manage those risks."

More than three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents report that they create strong passwords and keep them private, while 76 percent of respondents limit the amount of personal information shared on the Internet and 69 percent of respondents keep their browsers updated with the latest security features.

Despite this vigilance, some protective measures may be overlooked. Fewer than half of respondents (41 percent) say they frequently change online banking or financial account passwords.

He noted consumers can also take preventative measures to protect themselves from identity fraud, noting Travelers offers a series of tips to avoid having identities stolen.

The company recommends leaving the unnecessary credit cards and critical documents in a discrete, burglar-proof location in your home to beware of scams intended to pull at your heart strings.

"Do not disclose personal information, such as credit card and bank account details, if you receive an unsolicited request," Francis said. "Shred old bills and financial statements rather than placing them in the trash, and make sure to store purses and wallets in a safe place, never print account information on envelopes of outgoing mail, and be careful about sharing personal information on social media."