US Consumers Are Finally Becoming More Security & Privacy Conscious

A survey on US consumer attitudes toward online privacy and security holds some potentially good news for enterprise organizations in an era of work-from-home and hybrid work models.

The survey of 2,103 US adults, conducted by Consumer Reports (CR), showed substantial improvement in consumer cybersecurity and privacy practices over the past three years. Many more individuals appear aware of the security and privacy risks associated with their digital footprint, and have modified their behavior significantly to try and protect it better.

Some of the changes — such as a surge in the use of multifactor authentication (MFA) — appear tied to the fact that more and more organizations require it for accessing online accounts and services. That said, a lot of the behavioral changes are likely also being driven by a higher awareness of cyber-risks, several security experts say.

“The harsh reality is that the explosive growth in ransomware attacks and data breaches has raised awareness of cybersecurity to a level we’ve never seen before,” says Darren Guccione, CEO and co-founder at Keeper Security. “When people are unable to get fuel at the gas pump or their bank data is leaked on the Dark Web, they immediately understand the tangible impact cyberattacks can have on their personal lives.”

The trend has upside for enterprise organizations that are struggling to contain security challenges tied to the use of insecure home networks and devices by their work-from-home and remote employees. It could mean less of an uphill battle for them, says Brian Dunagan, vice president of engineering at Retrospect, a StorCentric company.

It suggests that people are taking communications regarding security directives seriously and are taking the time to read, learn, and ask questions if necessary — which is a notable shift. 

“Now is the time for security leaders to make the case for increased security budgets, whether it is added personnel or added security technology solutions,” Dunagan says.

Significant Security Improvements for Consumers

When it comes to better consumer adoption of certain security practices, 88% of survey respondents, for instance, said they use what CR describes as strong passwords…