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Data Breaches, Secure Passwords Stress Consumers

Employees falling victim to a phishing scam is a risk that keeps many cybersecurity information officers (CISOs) up at night. Security is a stressful job, but it appears that the cyber-stress is now spilling over into the consumer realm: 81% of Americans and 72% of Canadians report that news of data breaches stresses them out. 

A Kaspersky Lab report, The State of Cyber-Stress, found that consumers’ lack of awareness of how to protect themselves from online threats is leading to increased stress levels around technology usage and cybersecurity as a whole.

Choosing secure passwords is equally as overwhelming for consumers. Password security is a challenge for practitioners who need to ensure that end users are creating strong passwords and not sharing them with others. Of the more than 2,000 survey participants, nearly half (46%) of consumers aged 16 to 24 said that they often find it stressful to manage the number of passwords they have.

Coping with the demands of protecting themselves against cyber-threats can be one of the major causes of stress-related diseases, according to Heidi Hanna, Ph.D., executive director of the American Institute of Stress. When people feel unsafe or feel that situations are beyond their control, they feel “unable to keep up with the pace of change, something that is inherent in our constantly-connected, digital lifestyle.”

As a result of their increased levels of stress relating to technology and cybersecurity, consumers are growing more judicious about where they share their information. “When asked which industries they would be mostly likely to trust with their data, one in five respondents (22%) admitted that they would not rely on any sector. Additionally, just 7% of people stated that they would trust password management software with their online account or app login details,” Kaspersky Lab wrote in a press release.

Despite the high levels of stress and the desire to be more selective about with whom they share their personal information, “Many people still have no idea how to begin securing their devices from these threats, or what to do if they become a victim. With no way to gain control, the very idea of cybersecurity becomes completely overwhelming,” said Brian Anderson, vice president of consumer sales, Kaspersky Lab North America.

Security awareness training programs continue to be a way to educate consumers about cyber-threats and how to avoid them, not only to mitigate risks to the enterprise but also the reduce the current state of cyber-stress.

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