Consumers increasingly savvy about being online

Online consumers are increasingly savvy about being online, but many still do not employ all of the right tools to protect their privacy according to Anonymizer.

While nearly all respondents took precautions to protect their privacy online (95%), the two most popular methods – running anti-virus software (77%) and enabling a firewall (60%) – do not provide adequate safeguards against online privacy and security risks. These measures only protect a consumer’s computer system, not their privacy or identity.

When it comes to social networking, more than half of respondents (56%) are aware that being on Facebook means compromising their privacy. Despite these concerns, 29% had no plans to leave the popular social networking site.

“With celebrity hacking scandals and social media exposures grabbing headlines, it’s not surprising that consumers are increasingly aware of the privacy risks that come with our Web-powered world,” said Chaminda Wijetilleke, president of Anonymizer, Inc. “During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we want consumers to re-think what they’re doing to protect their privacy online and to take proper action.”

Other survey results include:

  • Behind firewalls and anti-virus software, rounding out the list of the top five most popular privacy protection methods are: not storing credit information on e-commerce sites (44%); exercising caution when creating and using passwords (36%), and setting the highest possible security settings on social media sites (28%).
  • Consumers are unsure about whether Facebook sells personal and behavioral data to advertisers. The majority of respondents (61%) are unsure; 29% believe their data is sold; and 10% do not believe their data is sold.
  • Overall, 66% of survey respondents indicated concern over websites and search engines collecting information as they surf the Internet.
  • By age group, concern over whether websites and search engines collect information varied widely. Of those 25 to 40 years of age, more than half (55%) were concerned or very concerned. In the 41 to 60 age group, 68% were concerned or very concerned. Of those over the age of 60, three-fourths (75%) were concerned or very concerned.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Zoomerang on behalf of Anonymizer, Inc. from October 12-14, 2011 among 1,050 adults aged 25 and older.