Most consumers have cyber security concerns, but a fraction take action

As once-trusted names like Facebook have breaches, consumers are failing to ensure information stored and shared online is more secure, according to a new report.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Since recent security breaches across major platforms like Facebook, have you updated your privacy settings on your social media platforms? If you have not, you are not alone.

Almost half of consumers (46 percent) have done nothing to adjust their privacy settings on social media, and less than half (45 percent) have checked to see if their data has been compromised over the past 12 months according to a new report.

A survey by UK-based VPN price comparison and review site BestVPN.com has revealed the state of online privacy in the US.

The company surveyed 1,000 online users in the US and discovered that 87.5 percent of respondents are concerned about the privacy of their personal data online.

Also: Russian election hacking hits a bump, but it's still going on CNET

Almost half of respondents (45 percent) say that they are uncomfortable using platforms that track, use, and potentially sell their personal data.

It is easy to see why they are worried. Almost two out of three (64 percent) of Americans have at least one online account with a financial provider such as a bank, utility, or service provider.

Password habits are putting users at risk of a data leak. Over half of Americans (53 percent) commit their passwords to memory, and one in three (36 percent) write their credentials down.

Over two in five Americans (41 percent) have not enabled two-factor authentication for any of their accounts. Few have password management apps.

Over half (55 percent) of Americans said that they would not sell their private data to any company, no matter how much money was offered. However, respondents seem to be unaware of the actions that big businesses are taking with their data.

Almost two out of three (62 percent) surveyed users believe it is illegal for internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, to collect and sell their personal data without their consent.

Also: 7 tips for SMBs to improve data security TechRepublic

Your ISP knows a lot about you. It knows exactly what you are doing on each website you visit, and can gather information gathered from your activities online to send you targeted information. Your ISP can potentially profit from your browsing habits.

So, how can users secure their online accounts?

Enabling two-factor, or multi factor authentication, should be a priority. Using carefully screened apps that are trusted, clearing cookies, or using a browser app as DuckDuckGo for Android to minimise cookie collection will clear browsing history after every session. Using a VPN for sensitive data could also secure your peace of mind.

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