While consumers were very aware of the risks associated with being online and engaging in ecommerce, the majority of respondents relied on inadequate measures to protect their privacy and identity, according to Anonymizer.
As more and more people use the Internet as their primary medium for banking, checking account balances and shopping, online consumers are increasingly vulnerable to becoming victims of cybercrime.
Seventy-five percent (75%) of respondents believed a firewall and another 62% believed anti-virus software both offered protection for their identity online. While firewalls and anti-virus software are important for protecting a computer, these tools do not provide a complete solution for protecting a user’s privacy and identity while online.
Other findings from the survey include:
- Identity theft (45%), privacy (41%) and computer viruses (45%) made respondents the most nervous about being online.
- According to Consumer Reports, one in five people have been a victim of cybercrime. Despite this sobering statistic, 36% of respondents still believed their identity was secure online.
- Consumers are increasingly aware that their mobile devices are also vulnerable to malicious cyber activity. Only 28% believed their identity was secure on a mobile device.
- Who’s watching me: 85% of respondents were aware that they were being profiled by advertisers as they surfed the Internet, and 85% were aware that cybercriminals were stalking them without their knowledge.
Despite heightened consumer awareness of potential online risks, every three seconds an identity is stolen online. Anonymizer encourages consumers to rethink their approach to online safety with these tips:
Have a plan: Complete Internet security requires a thorough, four-prong approach that must include: privacy and identity protection, computer system protection, browser protection, and a fraud alert service.
Hide your IP address: An IP address reveals seemingly harmless information – such as your city, state, Zip code, and browser type – which can be exploited by prying eyes. Install software that hides your IP address, and thus your identity and online activities, from criminals, search engines, and advertisers.
Use Wi-Fi protection: Virus and malware protection do not protect you from cybercriminals who might be lurking on unsecure connections. When accessing the Internet through a Wi-Fi hotspot – whether through a computer or mobile device – use an online anonymity product that shields your identity by passing all of your searches and information through an encrypted VPN tunnel.
Think twice before you type: Social networking sites are prime areas for cybercriminals to mine for personal information so beware of what you post. And never post personal information on any site that you wouldn’t want just anyone to know. Even if you delete this information later, nothing ever truly disappears on the Web.