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Two thirds of Americans are not protecting their privacy in the digital world

Smartphone Lock Screen
unldr - Wikimedia Commons

According to a new report released today, May 30, a staggering two-thirds of Americans are not doing anything to protect their personal information, despite the alarming amount of both recent and past data breaches. According to the report released by Consumer Reports, one in seven US residents, or roughly 45 million people have received a warning that their personal information has been compromised, or stolen, which equates to a massive 56 percent increase when compared to last year. Most of the incidents of data theft are a result of corporate negligence, but the average individual is to blame as well.

The stats in the report paint a bleak picture, and it really hammers home the message that we are not safe in the digital age. A recent poll of over 3000 people showed that a whopping 62 percent have taken no measures to protect their online privacy. When we post things on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks we are exposing ourselves to all kinds of attacks, both in the digital world, and real world, and the same can be said by using services such as PayPal, or dating sites. Just last fall, 42 million passwords were stolen when hackers decided to to hack Cupid Media dating sites, and 11.2 million people fell for scams that involved money transfers using sites like PayPal, which is a 22 percent increase compared to cases in 2013.

Smartphones and laptops have made it easy for us to stay in touch with others while we are on the go, and while we take these devices with us everywhere we go, most people still do not password protect their devices, which is a scary thought when you consider that in 2013, 3.1 million people were projected to have had their smartphone stolen, which is almost double the number in 2012, and 29 percent of people's home and laptop computers were infected with malware, and other malicious software.

Most of these issues can be avoided by using passwords on devices such as smartphones and laptops, and while it may take a few extra seconds to access your device, it could save you from a whole world of trouble. When picking a password make sure it is not easy to guess, and do not reuse the same password over and over again. Do not visit dubious websites, or click on random links in emails, and when a major retailer like Target, or e-tailer like eBay emails you to warn you about a data breach, take a few moments and reset your password.

Source: Consumer Reports

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