Unfortunately, cyber crime is the new normal. Ransomware attacks and phishing scams are all-too common occurrences, while cryptojacking has now entered the vernacular (which happens when someone hijacks your computer to mine cryptocurrency).

CivicScience checked in on how ‘secure’ people are feeling in our increasingly digitized status quo. Aligned with reports of increased cyber crime during the pandemic, a recent survey of 2,918 U.S. adults finds that concerns over cybersecurity are running high. Currently, a total of 87% of people say they are at least somewhat concerned about cybersecurity, with nearly half feeling “very concerned.”

Cybersecurity Software and Password Managers

CivicScience tracking shows a shift in favorability for cybersecurity computer software, such as Norton and McAfee. The survey finds that 54% of people say they have used these kinds of programs and like them, which represents a slight increase (2 percentage points) from 2019 levels. 

Likewise, adoption of password managers, which aim to help consumers keep their online accounts secure, has inched up from 11% in 2019 to 13% today. Awareness is still very low, leaving plenty of room for future adoption of the technology. 

Despite these small upticks, there doesn’t seem to be much movement towards greater adoption of software and password managers in the wave of the rising tide of cybersecurity concern. 

Data Security

Considering concerns over data privacy are also on the rise, it’s not surprising that a large percentage (40%) of respondents don’t believe that their passwords and personal data are safe online. 

That said, the majority of people are more middle-of-the-road when it comes to feelings on the safety of their online data. Interestingly, these numbers have not fluctuated over the past two years.

Before assuming age is the deciding factor in how someone views data security — where the older you are, the more likely you are to distrust that your data is safe online — take a look at the next chart. 

Indeed, 18- to 24-year-olds are the most likely age group to believe that their digital information is “very safe” online. Yet, it’s 25- to 34-year-olds who are significantly more likely to distrust the safety of their online data — a solid half of Millennials feel their online data is “not at all safe.” 

In contrast, those ages 55 and up are the least likely to feel their data is “not at all safe.”

Older adults, however, are more likely to be concerned about cybersecurity in general (which has remained consistent over the course of the past year). 

Cybersecurity: One Concern Among Many

The survey begs the question, “How concerned should you be about cybersecurity?” Additional findings offer insight into how different people judge the threat of cyber crime. The survey shows that those who carry a high level of concern for their health and food choices, the environment, and personal privacy are all likely to be very concerned about cybersecurity.

Take food choices, for example. The majority of people who read nutritional food labels when shopping for groceries are also “very concerned” about cybersecurity. In fact, they are 30% more likely to be very concerned than those who do not read food labels.

Likewise, those who place a high value on health and fitness activities are also more likely to be “very concerned” about cybersecurity. 

And finally, those who are the most concerned about consumer privacy are 71% more likely to be “very concerned” about cybersecurity — two issues that go hand-in-hand.

These and other data from the study suggest that cybersecurity factors into someone’s outlook in a personal way, where some people may have a heightened state of concern across the board when it comes to issues that can affect their well-being and safety. 

Influence on Consumer Choices: Mobile Banking

Cybersecurity weighs heavily on the minds of the American public and so is bound to have some sort of impact on consumer choices. For example, take the adoption of mobile banking apps.

The majority of people never use a mobile device for banking, and the data shown below suggest that cybersecurity concerns are a big reason why. However, among people who primarily use mobile banking apps to do their banking, nearly 50% say they are also very concerned about cybersecurity, indicating there’s more to the story.

Gauging concern over cybersecurity (and data safety) may be a helpful predictor in how someone might choose to engage with products and services that may be viewed as more digitally ‘vulnerable,’ such as banking apps. Yet, other identifying variables should be considered.

We will be exploring more about cybersecurity, products, and market impact in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!