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Over half of US adults report being victims of a breach, survey finds


Over 60% of US adults report being notified that their personal data has been compromised, according to a 2024 Digital Privacy Survey Report from US News & World Report.

What’s more, a considerable 44% said its happened to them multiple times, with 37% of US adults admitting they fell victim to a breach in 2023.

In the first three quarters of 2023, at least 2,116 data compromises were reported affecting some 66 million people, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the report cited.

2024 Digital Privacy Survey Report from US News & World Report - data breaches
US adult data breach experiences. 2024 Digital Privacy Survey Report from US News & World Report.

The survey, taken this past December, reveals that although US adults largely understand the risks associated with identity theft, phishing, malware, and data breaches the majority of adults still do not take the recommended steps to protect their data.

That’s even with 65% of adults reporting they are worried about cyber attacks on the nation in 2024.

Recommended steps can include simple security measures such as using a password manager or signing up for credit monitoring after a breach.

The survey found only 40% of US adults took advantage of credit monitoring in the aftermath of a breach, even though the service is offered for free, and 38% do not believe in the benefits of cyber insurance.

US adults cyber attack fears. 2024 Digital Privacy Survey Report from US News & World Report - phishing

Nearly half (45%) of respondents said they expect their private data to be exposed at some point. That's even though 80% of survey takers felt confident they would be able to recognize a phishing email, one of the more commonly used attack methods by hackers.

In a phishing attack the user is tricked into giving up personally identifiable information (PII) or installing malware – most often through targeted emails, fake texts, or other illegitimate tactics, such as impersonating someone on a phone call, also known as voice phishing, or ‘vishing.’

When it comes to password protection, just over 25% of US adults said they use a password manager to store credentials, with 27% admitting they still write their passwords down on paper, one of the least secure methods to store credentials, say experts.

2024 Digital Privacy Survey Report from US News & World Report - passwords
US adult password security practices. 2024 Digital Privacy Survey Report from US News & World Report.

Another 17% of US adults said they keep their passwords in a notes app or document stored on their phone or computer. The survey also revealed about one-quarter of the respondents regularly reuse passwords, also not a part of the recommended best practices for password security.

Besides password security, other best practices recommended by security experts include:

  • Being cautious about sharing personal information.
  • Watch for suspicious activity, don’t click on suspicious links.
  • Change passwords when notified of a breach.
  • Use an identity theft protection service.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Install anti-virus/anti-malware software

Identity theft and other cyber fraud cases continued to grow, according to the Federal Trade Commission and security experts, the report stated.


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