High unemployment rates and debt are not the only issues that have Americans preoccupied, according to a new report that highlights growing concerns over online safety.
A recent survey commissioned jointly by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Anti-Phishing Working Group reveals that 96 percent of U.S. citizens feel that they need to protect their online information better and take steps to boost online security. Another 93 percent reported that taking personal responsibility for online information would also extend protections to friends, family and other organizations.
The results of the study also highlight the need for more resources that provide information, advice and measures that can be utilized to boost online safety. Fifty-four percent of participants said they are "extremely concerned" about the loss of personal information online, ranking up there with concerns over job loss - 53 percent - and being unable to afford healthcare - 51 percent.
When asked specifically about their fears surrounding online information, 31 percent said the risk of falling victim to identity theft was their largest concern.
"Losing their identity, personal or financial information to a criminal gang is a daunting fear for Americans, one that ranks with job security and access to health care," APWG Secretary General Peter Cassidy said. "It's no wonder that many Americans are already taking steps to protect their online lives. Still, our findings bear out that consumers are also anxious to learn more about what to do to take control of their digital lives. Clearly, they crave personal control."
Americans can better protect their personal information by regularly updating their security and anti-virus settings. Additionally, individuals should understand how phishing scams work and how viruses can be uploaded to computers by clicking on unsafe links and other applications employed by criminals.
Because many Americans belong to social networking sites and other online groups, it is also important to limit the amount of personal information they reveal online, which may be used for the purposes of identity theft or fraud. Removing date of birth, address, place of employment, and even current city from social networking sites can greatly reduce a user's risk of having their information used for criminal purposes. It may also be a good idea to use a nickname or pseudonym on these sites to add further protection.