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Consumer Awareness Of Online Threats Is Up, Study Says

Users more worried about phishing, social networking threats, according to RSA
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of their data online, according to a study published last week.

In a study of more than 4,500 consumers conducted by InfoSurv and sponsored by RSA, researchers found that consumer awareness of phishing attacks has doubled between 2007 and 2009. The number of consumers who reported falling prey to this attack increased six times during that same time period.

In addition, while hundreds of thousands of people join social networking sites each day, nearly two in three (65 percent) people who belong to these online communities are less likely to interact or share information due to their growing security concerns, the survey found.

Four out of five (81 percent) people using social networking Websites expressed concern about the safety of their personal information online.

Consumers might be more aware of phishing threats, but new attack methods duped six times as many of them in 2009 than in 2007, the study says.

The sheer volume of phishing attacks launched in recent months is also contributing to these trends, RSA said. The RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center recently reported the highest-yet detected rates of phishing attacks between August and October 2009, as well as a 17 percent increase in the total number of attacks between 2008 and 2009.

An increase in consumer knowledge of online threats is further evident from the growth in the number of respondents that expressed awareness of Trojans. In 2007, 63 percent of consumers stated they were aware of Trojans and in 2009 that figure climbed to 81 percent.

The RSA survey revealed that consumers using online banking (86 percent) Websites shared more concern with the theft of their personal information than those using healthcare portals (64 percent) and government Websites (68 percent). As a result of these concerns, more than half of all consumers reported they are less likely to share information and interact on these Websites.

Consumers agreed that their identities should be better protected than a simple username and password on social networking (59 percent), healthcare (64 percent), government (70 percent), and online banking (80 percent) Websites. Nine in 10 consumers are willing to use a stronger form of security if offered.

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