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Survey: Most Americans Altering Online Behaviors Amid ID Theft Threat

More than 40 percent say they surf only sites they know, and 20 percent have stopped or scaled back online shopping, according to a new National Cyber Security Alliance survey
Fear of identity theft has forced most Americans to modify their online behavior, according to a new survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

More than 73 percent of the 3,000 Americans in the survey perform online banking, stock trading, or manage online personal medical information. And around 60 percent said identity theft risks have changed how they perform tasks online.

More than 40 percent of the respondents said they go only to Web sites they know, and 20 percent said they have either suspended or limited online shopping. The NCSA says that of the survey respondents, 22 percent said they have experienced credit card account theft, bank account compromise, or that their identity was stolen in order for the culprit to take out a loan.

Most are more worried about online crime than a physical break-in, too: Fifty-one percent said having $5,000 stolen from their bank account or credit card account was worse than having their home burglarized for the same amount of cash. Around 37 percent said the reverse, and 12 percent were unsure which was worse.

Even so, passwords aren't making much progress, apparently: Fifty-three percent say they use the same password for multiple online accounts.

Michael Kaiser, executive director of the NCSA, says the best bet for consumers is to visit only Web sites they trust, and to keep their anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software updated, as well as to use strong passwords with numbers, letters, and symbols. "These tools combined with good online behavior equal good cybersecurity," Kaiser said.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins 2, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading