Impermium Study Unearths Consumer Attitudes Toward Internet Security

Study explored Americans' limited adoption of two-factor authentication

June 29, 2013

4 Min Read


June 27, 2013 - SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Impermium, the leading defender against account hijacking and account compromise, today released the results of a nationwide survey, analyzing sentiments towards cyber-security threats and prevention. The June study, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Impermium, explored Americans' limited adoption of two-factor authentication, levels of worry related to account compromise, and preference for sites to offer less-disruptive forms of protection.

The current state of cyber-security has left US Internet users anxious about hacks and password theft. Despite constant victimization, the majority are not using two-factor authentication and are left without a widely accepted or deployed method of protection.

When asked about the overall concern related to account compromise, 79% indicated at least some level of worry around email account compromise, 55% around social media compromise, and 71% around bank account compromise. Despite the recent hype, consumers remain reluctant to adopt two-factor authentication, with 16% of Americans saying they have not signed in with this process in the past because it was inconvenient.

Impermium uncovered that while a majority of Americans have never signed into a website using two-factor authentication (75 percent), 77% of those who have not yet been a victim of account compromise are at least somewhat unlikely to continue using a site if their account were compromised. Additionally, while 65% of Americans have been victims of viruses, malware, and/or phishing attacks, only 25% have ever signed in with two-factor authentication as a preventive security measure. Further key findings include:

· 75% of Americans have not used two-factor authentication in the past

o 27% decided against signing onto a website with two-factor authentication because they did not want to disclose their mobile number and/or because they found it inconvenient

o 30% say that they have never needed to do this

o 20% did not want to disclose their mobile phone number

· Respondents were split in terms of determining who is primarily to blame for account compromises

o 39% believe websites are to blame by not offering or maintaining sufficient security features

o 37% believe the consumer is to blame due to weak passwords or falling for scams like phishing

· When asked which types of accounts they are most worried about getting hacked, Impermium learned email account compromise results in the most anxiety.

o 79% are at least somewhat worried about having their email account compromised

o 71% are at least somewhat worried about having their online bank accounts compromised

o 55% of consumers are at least somewhat worried about having their social media accounts compromised

When asked how worried they are about cloud data compromise, 43% of Americans responded they are at least somewhat worried

· A majority of consumers have been a victim of a listed online threat:

o 56% of consumers have been a victim of a virus or malware infection on a computer

o 37% have been a victim of a phishing attack

o 26% have been a victim of account compromise (e.g., hacked, broken into, password theft)

o 20% have been a victim of a social media phishing attack

o 5% had a phone lost or stole that resulted in unwanted access to sensitive information

"Despite heightened awareness of cyber threats and a clear demand for account protection, Americans are still hesitant to adopt new prevention techniques," said Mark Risher, CEO of Impermium. "Two-factor authentication has been held aloft as a 'silver bullet,' but a security system that isn't turned on provides no security. Only with intelligent, risk-based authentication mechanisms can service providers effectively protect users from account hijacking. Consumers and websites need an intelligent solution that is secure yet simple."

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Impermium from June 7-11, 2013 among 2,046 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Impermium

Impermium provides Internet security for the Cloud, defending against account hacking, account compromise, and other threats. Our system uses patented statistical and machine learning models and proprietary threat intelligence from more than 1,500,000 worldwide sites to provide real-time protection for top enterprises around the globe. Founded in 2010, the company is backed by investors including Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, Highland Capital Partners, and The Social+Capital Partnership.

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