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66% of Americans are worried about cyber security, but here's how to protect yourself online

66% of Americans are worried about cyber security, but here's how to protect yourself online
(Image credit: Getty)

It might be nothing like what we remember from ‘80s movies, but the risk of cyber attacks and hackers is a very real threat, and it has two thirds of Americans concerned about their safety online.

This news comes off the back of McAfee’s 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Report which was recently published by the internet security company. This study is designed to give insights into how people feel about their online safety, and how people’s expectations line up with the actual risks. As it turns out, there is quite a discrepancy between how safe people think they are, and how safe they actually are online.

As we noted, 66% of respondents said they were concerned about online threats, while 29% of those surveyed saying that they did not feel confident in their ability to protect themselves from a cyber attack. That’s all fine, but half of all respondents (50%) said that they did not have a dedicated security solution, like an antivirus software or internet security software.

This is worrying, but it also makes sense. People are great at identifying threats, but less effective at correctly calculating how vulnerable they themselves are to that threat. We can see this in the data if we dig further. Of those that have no security programs on their devices, 32% said they did not feel personally at risk, while 27% said they didn’t buy a security program because no one they knew had ever been the victim of cyber crime.

Internet Security Software Antivirus

(Image credit: Getty)

It’s easy to assume that you’re only at risk of malware, viruses, and hackers if you hang around on the darker side of the internet, but the truth is that you can run afoul of these threats anywhere. It can be as simple as clicking on a bad link that you’ve seen shared on Facebook, or opening an email. If you’re using a device that is connected to the internet, you should have an online security solution in place.

Survey respondents also admitted that they’ve sacrificed their privacy and security in the name of convenience, with 77% of those surveyed saying they’d taken advantage of new ease of use/access features like opting to stay signed in and storing credit card details on websites for faster checkout. 

Now we’re just as guilty as anyone when it comes to the convenience of being online, especially when you spend as much time online shopping as we do, but it’s important to balance convenience with your security. Many internet security solutions come with password managers that can auto-populate your details for websites. McAfee itself offers McAfee Total Protection, a comprehensive security solution that includes an antivirus, password manager, VPN, and identity theft protection. Yearly subscriptions start at $35.99, with various plans depending on how many users and devices you need to cover.

Password managers and generators are often built into web browsers these days too, and these are a great way to secure your accounts by giving you a complex password that you don’t need to memorize. You can also use one of the best VPN services when you’re shopping and banking online to keep your activities secure and anonymous.