It's not the next hurricane, a distracted driver, or food poisoning that Americans are most worried about these days: cyber threats are now only second to financial concerns and risks as the biggest worries to US consumers.
Meanwhile, 1 in 4 US consumers have been a victim of a data breach or cyberattack, according to the third annual Travelers Consumer Risk Index, which gauges perception of risk of Americans in their daily lives. The survey found that privacy/identify theft and cyber risks are just behind financial worries as the biggest concerns today, and ahead of personal and physical safety.
Some 66% of Americans say their financial well-being and security is their top concern, followed by privacy/identity theft (60%), cyber risks (57%), personal safety (51%), extreme weather and national disasters (43%), transportation and travel (42%), and food safety (41%).
Cyber security risk concerns were ranked at number five in last year's index, with 36% of consumers worried most about them. The survey polled more than 1,000 American adults.
Even more interesting is what consumers say they are doing about the cyber risk. Nearly 80% claim they try to create strong and private passwords, while some 76% say they try to minimize the volume of personal data they put online. Still, just 41% change their online banking and financial credentials regularly. Around 70% say they keep their browsers updated, and 63%, their AV and firewall software.
Their biggest cyber-worry: that their bank account gets hacked, with 62% saying so. Some 60% worry about malware infections of their computing devices and phones; online identity theft (59%); offline ID theft (59%); retailer hacks exposing their personal information (58%); and breaches of their medical records (43%).
"Cyber-related concerns grew by more than 20 percentage points in the 2015 Travelers Consumer Risk Index, compared with the 2014 survey. Clearly, consumers understand that the cyber risks are a real threat and that they need to take measures to reduce these exposures," says Patrick Gee, senior vice president of auto, property and catastrophe claim at Travelers.
Gee says the new risk index survey shows that cyber threats are becoming a more "conventional" issue for Americans when it comes to risk. "Many may be feeling more vulnerable to cyber risks as Americans are becoming increasingly reliant on technology in nearly every aspect of their daily lives," he says.
Age is also a factor with cyberworries, he says. "Americans under the age of 55 are generally more likely to worry a great deal about cyber risks than those over 55," Gee says.