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Survey: Consumers, SMBs Slack On Privacy Protection

One-third of U.S. and U.K. consumers and SMBs say they've lost USB sticks, and nearly three-fourths leave data unprotected overall
Despite the near-epidemic of major data breach announcements, consumers and small to midsize businesses are still doing little to protect their data and identities online, according to a new survey.

Around 32 percent say they've lost a USB stick, and of those who did, only 14 percent had encrypted the data on the drive, according to a survey by encryption software firm Steganos of 120 U.S. and U.K. consumers and SMBs. More than 70 percent left their data wide open to other users, and 15 percent don't know if their data is protected or not.

Email encryption is nearly nonexistent among this user group: More than three-quarters, or 78 percent, of users don't encrypt their email messages, while only 8 percent do. One-fifth don't even know if they have encryption software installed.

While more than 40 percent say they have a paper shredder to destroy sensitive printed documents, only 11 percent use a digital file shredder. More than 80 percent say they don't shred digital files, and 6 percent don't know if they have a file shredder.

"Consumers wouldn't leave their diary or wallet open for anyone to see in a public place, and yet they don't seem to take the same care when online," says Michael Marzy, managing director for Steganos. "We all store so much confidential data on portable devices, such as laptops, notebooks, and PDAs. The increasing risk of theft means that everyone, be it a home computer user or business user, needs to take responsibility for protecting data, both by encrypting current files and shredding those that are no longer needed."

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