US Internet users are more worried about hacking than online tracking and privacy: Survey


US Internet users are highly concerned about computer hacking and theft of personal information than about online privacy and tracking by marketers, according to a poll released by Computer & Communications Industry Association.

The survey found that Internet
users are more worried about the theft of personal and financial information and believe that the federal government should do more to protect them.

On average, voters are 5 times more worried about hacking than tracking. 80% say they are more worried the information they share will be hacked to cause harm or steal from them while just 16% are more worried that companies will use the information they share online to target advertising to them.

“By wide margins this survey clearly shows that identity theft has touched the majority of consumers in some way, and that hacking is more worrisome to consumers than tracking, and that voters want the government to more aggressively go after cyber criminals,” said Ed Black, president and chief executive of the tech trade association.

“Safeguarding users online must become a higher priority for companies and also for the regulators and policymakers charged with protecting consumers.”

The survey found 75 percent of respondents were worried about their personal information being stolen by hackers and 54 percent about their browsing history being tracked for targeted advertising.

However, when asked to choose which one is more important to them, 87 percent mentioned the need to protect their personal information from criminals.

According to the survey, most take steps to protect the security of their information.  More than three in four (76%) survey respondents indicated they have used a different password for each service, and 57% have signed up for a two-step sign-in process.  Also 83% have required a password to unlock their devices at some point.

The survey also shows that respondents have a lower level of concern about targeted online advertising as evidence by the fact that most would rather have a free Internet with targeted advertising than a paid service but with no advertising.  Twice as many say they prefer free online services supported by targeted ads (61%) over online services that they pay for but come with no targeted ads (33%).

The complete survey can be found here.