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Americans Becoming More Concerned About Security, Study Says

Loss of personal and financial information is as much of a concern as loss of job, NCSA/APWG survey says
Americans are becoming more concerned than ever about protecting the security of their computers and their personal information, according to a study published yesterday.

The study, posted by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), found that 96 percent of Americans feel a personal responsibility to be safer and more secure online.

Americans feel most vulnerable about the loss or theft of their personal or financial information, the survey found. Fifty-four percent of Americans said the prospect of losing this data "extremely concerned" them (based on a rating of eight or higher on a 10-point scale). Losing personal or financial information ranked similarly to concern over job loss (53 percent) and not being able to provide healthcare for the family (51 percent).

Identity theft ranked as the chief fear. Nearly one-third of Americans (31 percent) reported identity theft as their greatest concern to personal safety and security on the Internet. The fear of someone hacking into their financial information or accounts ranked a close second, with a quarter of Americans listing it as their greatest worry.

Overall, Americans feel safest online when they are taking independent action for their own Internet security, the study said. Sixty-one percent believe much of online safety and security falls under their personal control, and 90 percent said they want to learn more about keeping safer on the Internet.

When asked why they don't always do all the things they can or should do to stay safer online, most Americans said they simply lacked the information or knowledge (28 percent). Only 12 percent said online safety was too expensive, while just 5 percent said they were too busy to take the extra step.

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