One in two fears misuse of their personal data

March 23, 2023

ESET survey sheds light on internet users’ biggest concerns and their protective measures

Identity theft and misuse of personal data are the biggest concerns for almost half of internet users, according to a representative ESET survey. In second and third place come infections of devices with malware (25.8 percent) and fraud in online purchases by fake shops (20.6 percent).

Biggest concern: identity theft

Suddenly, strange reminders and debt collection demands for goods that the person concerned did not even order are in the letterbox. Identity theft and the misuse of personal data are the biggest concern for almost half of Internet users, according to the results of a representative ESET survey. In second and third place come infections of devices with malware (25.8 percent) and fraud in online purchases by fake shops (20.6 percent). But what do the protective measures look like? Is two-factor authentication (2FA) used to protect the online account? The current survey also provides answers to this question.

“Especially the theft of personal identity is a horror scenario for internet users and is becoming more and more of a problem. Contracts are concluded or goods ordered in the name of the victim and by the time you notice the fraud, it is long too late,” explains Michael Schröder, Manager of Security Business Strategy at ESET. “Protecting your own data is therefore of enormous importance. A password alone to protect the login is no longer sufficient today. A password manager is what makes it possible to use complex and secure passwords conveniently and should be standard equipment. Two-factor authentication should also always be activated. That way, cyber criminals don’t stand a chance.”

Identity theft biggest concern among internet users

45.5 per cent of respondents are concerned about becoming victims of identity theft or misuse of their personal information. One in four (25.8 percent) are afraid of being infected with malware, one in five of being defrauded by fake shops, for example. Interestingly, ransomware plays a minor role among private users. Only 8.1 percent fear that they could be affected by such encryption Trojans.

2FA is being used more and more often

The importance of protecting access data seems to have increasingly entered the minds of Internet users: More than one in three (34.2 percent) use two-factor authentication at every opportunity. This is an increase of 6.4 percent compared to last year’s survey. Around half of the respondents (45.8 percent) continue to use “two-step login” at least in part. Only one in five still completely forgoes the use of 2FA to protect their access data. Compared to last year, this is a decrease of six percent.

Password manager is used more and more

The requirements for a secure password are growing. A password manager is a helpful tool for keeping an overview in the password jungle. A multitude of passwords is difficult for Internet users to remember. One in three uses a password manager (30.6 percent) – this is an increase of five percent compared to the ESET survey 2022. 21.4 percent of internet users use a classic notebook to write down their passwords. 32.2 percent of respondents said that they remember their passwords without any tools. Only 9.2 percent use the browser as a storage location for their passwords. Only 6.6 percent use identical passwords for several online services.

About the survey

ESET surveyed 1,000 men and women of different ages for the representative survey. The online survey was conducted on behalf of the European IT security company by the market research institute Omniquest.

Tips for protecting personal data

  • – Always be up to date: Whether operating system or apps – always keep your digital companions such as smartphones, tablets and computers up to date and install updates immediately.
  • – Store important data: Pictures, videos and other personal data should be stored on external storage media. This way, they are backed up and available even in the event of a failure. We recommend using network storage or cloud storage offerings for such backups. Especially in the cloud, sensitive data should be reliably encrypted.
  • – Secure access data effectively: Just changing the password does not increase security. Using a password manager, such as in ESET Smart Security Premium, reliably protects passwords and personal data. If possible, use two-factor authentication. Here, another factor is added in addition to the user name and password, such as a one-time code via SMS or app, fingerprint or facial recognition. Many services such as Facebook, Google or Apple offer this option.
  • – Use a security solution: A powerful security solution is part of the basic equipment for PCs, Macs and mobile devices. It should offer comprehensive protection against malware and reliably facilitate everyday digital life with helpful functions such as parental controls, password managers, data encryption and theft protection.
  • – Delete unused accounts and profiles: Go through all your online accounts: Which accounts do you still use, which no longer? When you register, you usually receive a confirmation by e-mail. These messages can also be combined well with a clean-up of the email inbox.

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