Kaspersky Lab just released a new survey, which revealed that 75% of people in the U.S. and Canada are stressed by the number of passwords they have to manage. The research also found that facing a cybersecurity incident is one of the most stressful situations modern consumers can face. When presented with a variety of scenarios, two-in-three people (66%) ranked having their bank account compromised as the most stressful – more than the number of people who selected losing their job, being in a minor car accident or missing a flight.
One year after its May 2018 study, Kaspersky Lab is revisiting the issue of cybersecurity-related stress, based on the results of a new survey of internet users in the U.S. and Canada. The survey report, “Cyber-Stress, Refreshed,” examines how consumers’ stress levels have changed in the last year, whether these feelings influence their online behavior, and how technology knowledge affects cyber-stress.
This year’s research found that in addition to worrying about passwords, 68% of consumers in North America are stressed by news of data breaches. Unfortunately, these cybersecurity incidents are becoming more commonplace, with 1,244 data breach incidents reported in 2018. In Kaspersky Lab’s survey, 34% of Americans and 23% of Canadians said that within the last year, a company has informed them or they have noticed that their digital data was compromised in a breach.
Overall, these high levels of stress around data security do not appear to influence strong personal cybersecurity habits. For example, nearly a third of respondents (30%) said that they use the same passwords for all or most of their online accounts, rising to 44% of those aged 16 to 24.
While cyber-stress is a widespread issue, knowledge of cybersecurity is a key factor that appears to impact stress levels, with the research uncovering a reverse correlation between security knowledge and cyber-stress. Of the survey respondents who self-identified as cybersecurity experts, 86% said that news of data breaches caused them stress, compared with just 44% of people with no knowledge of cybersecurity.
Stress often has a negative connotation, but according to experts, some amount of stress can actually be beneficial for a healthy life. This research shows that a moderate level of cyber-stress can positively influence consumers to adopt strong personal cybersecurity habits. People with well-managed cyber-stress are more likely to take proactive steps to protect their devices and data, such as using strong passwords and leveraging security solutions on all their devices.
Brian Anderson from Kaspersky said whether we’re a cybersecurity expert or just an average technology user, it can be overwhelming to feel like we’re not in control of our own personal data. However, this doesn’t mean that you should tune out whenever you see cybersecurity headlines in the news, because data breaches and cyber-threats are important for all consumers to be aware of. Acknowledging cybersecurity issues without allowing them to become overwhelming is one of the best ways to manage cyber-stress, as this attitude empowers a proactive approach towards data security.