News of widespread NSA surveillance of world leaders, foreign governments and even ordinary Americans broke last summer to what appears to be widespread indifference among the American public. A Pew survey conducted a week after the scandal broke in 2013 found that most Americans feel that it’s acceptable for the government to monitor our phone calls and emails. Many feel that a little government surveillance is the price Americans pay to remain safe from terrorism.
So, what do web-savvy Americans fear most in terms of security and privacy? Apparently, it’s hackers. Americans are most concerned about protecting their online privacy and personal information from hackers, identity thieves and other criminals. To a lesser extent, they’re also worried about advertisers mining their online activities for data. Loss of files and data is also a big concern for Americans, in both their personal and work lives.
For these worries, there are some solutions. Following best password practices can help you stay ahead of hackers. Paying attention to how much you allow companies to track your online data could help you diminish advertiser mining. If you’re concerned about keeping your company’s data safe, refurbished PowerEdge servers are a high quality and affordable data storage option that allow you and your employees to rest easy about the safety of your work-related data. But even with these cybersafety measures, Americans still have concerns.
Few Are Scared of the NSA
The results of the Pew survey regarding the public’s opinion on NSA surveillance found that 56 percent of Americans find that tracking Americans’ phone records on a wide scale is acceptable if it helps the government investigate terrorism. Sixty-two percent ranked terrorism investigations above personal privacy in importance, saying that they support government surveillance even if it compromises their own privacy online.
These numbers represent no significant change in public opinion since before word of the NSA surveillance program got out. Interestingly, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support NSA spying — 69 percent of Democrats responded that they support the surveillance program, while 62 percent of Republicans said the same.
Most People Are Trying to Avoid Hackers
While the majority of Americans may not be too upset about NSA spying, that doesn’t mean they aren’t concerned about online privacy, shielding their identity online and protecting personal information. In another Pew survey, 86 percent of Americans who use the Internet have tried to erase or at least minimize their digital footprints in order to avoid specific groups or people online.
Who would Americans most like to avoid in their online activities? Hackers and criminals topped the list, with 33 percent of survey respondents saying they have attempted to hide from these unsavory elements online. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed said they were concerned about advertisers tracking their activities.
Significant portions of Americans also attempted to hide their online activities from specific people in their lives, past or present. Nineteen percent of American Internet users try to hide their online activities from certain friends, and a similar percentage wish to avoid certain people they have known in the past. Seventeen percent wouldn’t like to run into anyone in cyberspace who has criticized or harassed them in real life, and 14 percent try to hide their online activities from spouses, partners or other family members.
How do Americans hide on the Internet? Sixty-four percent delete browsing history or cookies; 41 percent delete or edit previous posts; 41 percent disable cookies; 36 percent avoid websites that ask for real names; 26 percent use temporary usernames and email addresses; 25 percent comment anonymously; and 21 percent have asked another user to remove a post that concerns them.
Email Hacking Is Our Biggest Fear
An October 2013 Modis survey revealed that 22 percent of Americans most fear having their work or personal email account hacked. Nineteen percent say their worst fear is a loss of personal data and files. When asked what personal information they most fear having publicized, an overwhelming 58 percent of Americans said they most feared having their online banking data made public.
While Americans are certainly concerned about issues surrounding online privacy and security, the response to the NSA surveillance scandal would appear to have been a resounding, “Meh.” On the other hand, when it comes to hackers, identity theft and surveillance by advertisers, Americans are quaking in their boots. Why? Perhaps because Americans feel that the threats of terrorism and cybercrime far outweigh the dangers of being spied on by a probably-bored government agent.
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