Study: Americans do not trust institutions but fail to protect their own data

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Jan. 27, 2017 at 10:04 AM
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Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Americans do not trust modern institutions to protect their personal data but also do not properly protect their own data, a Pew Research Center study said.

After conducting a survey on 1,040 U.S. adults in the spring of 2016, Pew Research Center found that Americans "frequently neglect cybersecurity best practices in their own personal lives."

"A majority of Americans, 64 percent, have personally experienced a major data breach, and relatively large shares of the public lack trust in key institutions -- especially the federal government and social media sites -- to protect their personal information," Pew Research Center wrote in a report released Thursday.

Of those polled, 49 percent said they do not trust the federal government with protecting their data and 51 percent said they do not trust social media websites.

Cybersecurity experts generally recommend consumers use password management software as the safest and most secure way to handle passwords, though just 12 percent of people use the software, Pew Research Center said.

About 84 percent of people rely on memorizing passwords or writing them down as the main method to keep their information safe, while 41 percent of people said they have shared their password of at least one online account with someone else, Pew Research Center said.

"At the same time that they express skepticism about whether the businesses and institutions they interact with can adequately protect their personal information, a substantial share of the public admits that they do not always incorporate cybersecurity best practices into their own digital lives," Pew Research Center wrote.

Fifty-four percent of Americans said they use potentially insecure public Wi-Fi networks and about 20 percent of those use those networks to conduct sensitive activities such as online banking.

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