Werth Poll

January 2017 Werth Poll, Part 2 of 3: Online Behavioral Change Inconsistent with Threat

March 16, 2017

If there’s one thing we’re learning about modern society and the digital age, it is this: Whether directly or indirectly, having your personal information compromised at some point is almost inevitable.

High-profile data breaches continue to expose the weaknesses in security practices across government and corporate entities. The breaches of the Democratic National Committee, Yahoo!, Verizon, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services and the CIA, all reveal that getting hacked is no longer an anomaly.

So if living in a hackable digital environment is the new normal, we wanted to know if it prompts changes in behavior. For our January Werth Poll, we asked: “Have concerns about cybersecurity changed the way you go about using the internet?”

As a whole, the survey results revealed a near-even divide – 45 percent of respondents had not changed the way they use the internet, whereas 43 percent affirmed they had concerns and changed their behavior because of it.

As we looked closely at the data by demographic, we found that younger adults between the ages of 18 and 29 were concerned at a smaller rate (38.5 percent), whereas respondents in the 45 to 59 age range were most concerned about cybersecurity and have changed their habits. Interestingly, the oldest demographic surveyed, persons 60 years of age and older, had a smaller percentage of concerned individuals (40 percent) in comparison to persons between the ages of 30 and 44 (almost 44 percent).

When it comes to gender, women showed heightened levels of concern by more than 6 percentage points (46.6 percent) versus their male counterparts (40 percent). However, the single largest margin of difference among all respondents cut across race. More than 60 percent (a survey high) of African-Americans affirmed cybersecurity concerns and changes in internet habits, representing almost a 20-percentage-point difference in comparison to Caucasian respondents (40.8 percent) who felt the same way.

With millions of pieces of sensitive data compromised every year – and 64 percent of American adults reporting being impacted by some form of data theft(1) – one might expect that at least two-thirds of respondents would show greater concern. The data doesn’t validate that line of thinking. Perhaps it can be chalked up to naïveté and the prevailing but misguided wisdom of “it won’t happen to me” kicking in … at least until it actually does happen.

(1)Pew Research Study; Americans & Cybersecurity, Jan. 26, 2017

Below are details of the survey:

Ohio Statewide Survey

1/24/17 – 1/28/2017
N=801, +/- 3.46%
General Election Voters
(percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding)

For past results, visit our Werth Poll page at http://www.paulwerth.com/category/werth-poll

Cybsersecurity Cross Tab 3.15.17 vs 2