New report comprising nationally representative survey results of 2,000+ US adults shows progress in consumer behaviors that enhance security.
Contact: Carner Derron
Manager, Marketing & Communications
October 4, 2022, Washington, DC – Marking the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Consumer Reports (CR) and Aspen Digital, a program of the Aspen Institute, today released the Consumer Cyber Readiness Report. The new report reveals progress in consumer behaviors that enhance cybersecurity, and highlights where continued progress is needed.
The findings comprise results from a nationally representative survey of 2,103 US adults conducted by CR from June 10 to 21, 2022, along with earlier baselines dating back to 2019. The report also provides perspectives from cybersecurity leaders, including key representatives from the White House, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Treasury.
The most recent survey shows consumer cybersecurity and privacy practices have improved over the years in many areas, as consumers become more empowered and better equipped to protect themselves and their personal information. However, consumer concerns indicate needed improvements in a range of everyday technologies. Government, industry, and civil society groups must continue working together to help bridge this divide.
Key findings of the survey on American consumers include:
- Security and privacy behaviors have improved over the last 3 years. More consumers are:
- Using a strong password to access their home Wi-Fi network (74% in 2019 to 88% in 2022);
- Using multi-factor authentication (50% in 2019 to 77% in 2022), a feature that requires a password plus another piece of information (such as a code sent via a text message) to log into any of their online accounts;
- Setting permissions for apps on their smartphone to block access to things like their camera, location or contacts if they aren’t needed for the app to function (60% in 2019 to 78% in 2022).
- 75% are at least somewhat concerned about the privacy of their personal data collected online.
- Only 7% are very confident that their personal data is private and not distributed without their knowledge.
- 33% believe that the federal government should be most responsible for protecting the online privacy of Americans; 32% say companies should be most responsible.
Amira Dhalla, director of impact partnerships and programs at CR, noted, “Cybersecurity Awareness Month presents an opportunity to have meaningful engagement with consumers on how they can protect themselves online. We need collective action to better serve their needs. This report shows that we have made progress but significant work remains to build trust with consumers and better equip them with the necessary tools and education to protect their digital security and privacy.”
Katie Brooks, Director of Cyber Partnerships at Aspen Digital, said, “Increasing awareness of cybersecurity risks and resources is the first step towards broader adoption of a good defense. Measuring consumer attitudes on these topics provides direction for where to focus education and outreach efforts moving forward.”
Craig Newmark, the founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and a former CR board member, added, “Measuring consumer attitudes on cybersecurity is an important step to understanding how effective efforts across government, industry, and civil society have been in moving us all towards a more empowered and secure democratic society. It also informs where we should spend more time and resources to continue moving in the right direction.”
Marta Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports, said, “Consumers are increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats, and current options to secure their data are often complicated. We must give people the cybersecurity tools to protect themselves and demand action and accountability from industry and government.”
For consumers searching for expert advice, CR offers Security Planner, a free, easy-to-use guide to staying safer online. It provides personalized recommendations and expert advice on topics such as keeping social media accounts from being hacked, locking down devices, and reducing intrusive tracking by websites.
Founded in 1936, CR has a mission to create a fair and just marketplace for all. Widely known for our rigorous research and testing of products and services, we also survey millions of consumers each year, report extensively on marketplace issues, and advocate for consumer rights and protections around safety as well as digital rights, financial fairness, and sustainability. CR is independent and nonprofit.
Aspen Digital empowers policy-makers, civic organizations, companies, and the public to be responsible stewards of technology and media in the service of an informed, just, and equitable world. This Aspen Institute program shines a light on urgent global issues across cybersecurity, the information ecosystem, emerging technology, the industry talent pipeline, tech and communications policy, and innovation. It then turns ideas to action and develops human solutions to these digital challenges.
Media contact: Cyrus Rassool, email@example.com