Woburn, MA – May 1, 2018 – Kaspersky Lab has revealed a new survey report today, which shows that 81 percent of Americans and 72 percent of Canadians admit to feeling stressed by the news of data breaches. The Kaspersky Lab report, “The State of Cyber-Stress,” found that consumers’ lack of awareness of how to protect themselves from online threats is leading to increased stress levels around technology usage and cybersecurity as a whole.
To quantify the impact of online threats on people’s stress levels, Kaspersky Lab surveyed over 2,000 consumers in North America on their attitudes towards cybersecurity and what actions they take to protect their data. As consumers have become increasingly reliant on digital devices to store personal information, millions of people have concurrently become the victim of a data breach in recent years. The pervasive threat of losing personal data to a cyberattack can be a daunting uncertainty, and it is leading to chronic stress.
Technology overload increasing stress levels
Kaspersky Lab’s new report revealed that in addition to data breaches causing cyber-stress, choosing secure passwords and keeping track of login information for a growing number of online accounts can be overwhelming – especially for younger generations. Nearly half (46%) of consumers aged 16 to 24 said that they often find it stressful to manage the number of passwords they have. According to experts, this constant pressure to protect digital data is a catalyst for health issues relating to cyber-stress.
“Research has shown that it’s not the big, acute, one-time challenges that cause the majority of stress-related disease and disorder, but the everyday, nagging, accumulating pressure and tension we feel when we don’t have enough capacity to cope with the demands of life,” explained Heidi Hanna, Ph.D., executive director of the American Institute of Stress. “Especially when we feel unsafe, out of control, or unable to keep up with the pace of change, something that is inherent in our constantly-connected, digital lifestyle.”
Cybersecurity incidents becoming all-too familiar
While these levels of cyber-stress may seem excessive to some, the research revealed that consumers’ fears about becoming the next victim of a cyberattack are justified. Kaspersky Lab found that 46 percent of survey respondents have experienced at least one cybersecurity issue in the last five years. Furthermore, a small percentage of people – 14 percent of Americans and six percent of Canadians – admitted to facing four or more cybersecurity issues in the last five years.
Becoming the victim of a cyberattack can add to the ongoing anxiety people feel around cybersecurity. A third of people surveyed (33%) claim that they often find it stressful protecting all their devices when they have experienced a cybersecurity issue in the last five years.
Consumers re-evaluating where to share data
When consumers hear news of companies they regularly shop at facing a breach, it can cause them to be wary of sharing any more data. According to Kaspersky Lab’s research, in light of their increased cyber-stress, consumers are losing confidence in businesses and technology solutions to protect their information. When asked which industries they would be most likely to trust with their data, one in five respondents (22%) admitted that they would not rely on any sector. Additionally, just seven percent of people stated that they would trust password management software with their online account or app login details.
Conversely, people do appear to be willing to entrust their data to what is often considered an unsecure source – other people. Nearly half of survey respondents (49%) would share their device username and password with their partner, and the same percentage would trust their partner with the answers to their security questions.
“With massive data breaches and cyberattacks making headlines nearly every week, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the cybersecurity risks out there,” said Brian Anderson, vice president of consumer sales, Kaspersky Lab North America. “However, many people still have no idea how to begin securing their devices from these threats, or what to do if they become a victim. With no way to gain control, the very idea of cybersecurity becomes completely overwhelming. By educating consumers about cyber threats and how to avoid them, technology companies can do their part to help to reduce our community’s collective cyber-stress.”
Both consumers and businesses must be responsible for taking proactive steps to learn more about cybersecurity and implement security solutions. Through education and action, cybersecurity can become a source of empowerment rather than frustration, and consumers can understand how to embrace and utilize technology safely – instead of allowing it to create cyber-stress.