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Kaspersky survey shows cybersecurity incidents remain significant consumer stressor

Kaspersky released a new survey report, revealing that nearly seven in ten (69%) people in the U.S. and Canada find the news of a data breaches to be stressful. The report, "Dealing with a new normal in our digital realityalso found that 57% of respondents increased their use of online services during the pandemic, and for half of respondents (56%), having to be online so often has in itself become a cause of stress.

In May 2018, and again in April 2019, Kaspersky examined the issues of cybersecurity-related stress in its reports, "The State of Cyber-Stress" and "Cyber-Stress, Refreshed" and how it changed over time. As the pandemic has impacted so much of everyday lives, Kaspersky revisited the concept of cyber-stress to better understand how it may have changed in 2020 when so many people were leading increasingly digital lives. The results are based on a survey of 2,500 consumers in the U.S. and Canada.

Compared to previous surveys, the findings from the latest report in regards to the news of a data breach causing stress were the same as in 2019 (68%) and a 7% decrease from the survey in 2018 (76%). Sentiments around various cybersecurity-related scenarios also remained consistent overtime. For example, 64% of respondents in 2021 and 66% in 2019 saying that having their bank account compromised would cause them the stress.

Of those respondents in North America, many increased their use of online services, with over a quarter (27%) saying it has significantly increased. However, the increase in use impacted age groups differently, with 64% of Millennials use increased while only 45% of Baby Boomers increased their use. That being said, of all the age groups, only 7% of people in the U.S. and Canada decreased the amount of time they were spending online.

With an increase in the amount of time people spent online, so did confidence in their ability to keep their digital lives safe. Of respondents who increased their use of online services, over a third (36%) feel more prepared to protect their digital life from a cyber attack, while 23% of people feel less prepared. Surprisingly, only 30% of respondents said they use a security solution on all of their devices to protect the personal information stored online or on their devices.

With mainstream news about the Colonial Pipeline attack and many attacks against schools, ransomware has been an increasingly common topic, despite this type of attack being around for many years. As a result of increased mainstream awareness, the latest survey asked if news of a ransomware attack was a cause of stress for North Americans - and 64% of people stated that it was a top concern.

In addition, stress can sometimes be associated with a lack of understanding about a topic. Nearly half (46%) of respondents considering themselves to have basic or beginner knowledge in terms of understanding cybersecurity. Only 17% of respondents stated as having expert or advanced cybersecurity knowledge.

In response to the uncertainty of this past year, respondents found several online activities to help reduce stress. Over half (53%) watched television, 32% found online workouts to be helpful, and 14% used meditation applications. Over half (51%) of Gen Z respondents used social media to relax during lockdowns, a number that is similar to responses from the next generation, Millennials (49%). However, the percentage drops to 37% when Gen X respondents were asked the same.

"Whether the amount that you used online services went up or not since the start of the pandemic, it can be stressful to try and manage your digital life," comments Marina Alekseeva, Chief Human Resources Officer at Kaspersky. "It is important to gain control of your digital life to have peace of mind in knowing your data is protected. You can do this by protecting your devices, following proper security hygiene, going to online resources to relax, and staying up-to-date and educated about cybersecurity issues."

Kaspersky recommends the following tips for consumers to keep themselves protected and lessen their  cyber-stress:

  • Use strong passwords that are unique for every account. Find a system that works for you to help you to come up with a different secure password for every online account. This could be storing login information in a password manager, or using a word association technique like the one taken responsibility for mastering her skills as a manager for creating passphrases.
  • Secure your device with a PIN or password. A surprising number of people do not lock down their smartphones with a simple PIN or password. This can help to protect your personal information from outsiders if your device is lost or stolen.
  • Use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi. A VPN can encrypt all data sent over public Wi-Fi, ensuring that third parties cannot view or intercept your personal information.
  • Use a security solution that can protect your personal data. Reliable security software can protect you from malware, ransomware, phishing, spam and more, while also offering features that can enhance your online life, like a password manager and parental control components.
  • Find tools to navigate your digital life mindfully. Try taking proactive steps to develop healthier digital habits, like signing up for the "Overcoming digital stress and smartphone addiction" meditation course.
  • Learn about cybersecurity and online privacy. Ignorance may be bliss, but more knowledge of cybersecurity threats and best practices will help you reduce the impact of a breach or cyberattack if you face one in the future. 
To read more about the findings and the full report, click here:
Published Monday, September 20, 2021 8:21 AM by David Marshall
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