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​​Key Takeaways from 2021 Consumer Cybersecurity Poll

Blog Post
January 18, 2022

The 2021 Consumer Cybersecurity Poll captured several interesting points regarding Americans’ attitudes towards cybersecurity. One of the key findings from 2021 was that the top cybersecurity issues that worry consumers about their personal confidential information are identity theft and stolen credit or debit card information. Furthermore, more than three-fourths of Americans believe their financial institution can protect their personal and payment information from hackers.

48% of consumers would leave their institution if it suffered a data breach, and 30% believe it’s okay to use the same password for an online bank account that they use for other online accounts, up from 24% in 2019.

On a more positive note, the poll found that 69% of Americans believe they know what to do if their confidential data is compromised. Half of Americans believe a person’s payment information is more likely to be compromised when using a physical card versus a digital payment, such as contactless cards or P2P.

Unsurprisingly, cybersecurity has become front of mind for Americans, considering the pandemic has forced many online and are doing business in digital spaces in ways they haven’t before.

Here are some of the poll’s key findings.

Identity Theft and Stolen Card Information

Identity theft and stolen card info rank among Americans’ top cybersecurity concerns in 2021, at 60% each. These stats are down considerably from 2019 when identity theft (73%) and stolen card information (72%) topped the list of concerns. Additionally, in 2021, around half of Americans worried about malicious software installed on their devices (52%). Half expressed fear around computer viruses and/or worms, and 45% said they were worried about a company they do business with experiencing a data breach.

These results indicate a unique opportunity for banks and other financial institutions to continue building trust and rapport with their customers by delivering cybersecurity education. And there is good reason to believe that such education is sorely needed. In 2020 alone, the Federal Trade Commission received 1.4 million reports of identity theft, double the number from the previous year.

Teksetra offers some tips on how businesses can secure their devices to prevent theft. First, it’s essential to encrypt your devices. Those who work from home must take special precautions to ensure the safety of their data. These include having a strong wifi password and attending training specified for remote work and cybersecurity considerations.

Strong Authentication

One of the most troubling results of the 2021 Consumer Cybersecurity Poll is that 30% of Americans agree that it’s okay to use the same password for an online bank account for other online accounts, which is an increase of six percentage points from 2019. Perhaps most alarmingly, 43% of Americans aged 18-44 believe it’s okay to use the same password across different accounts and websites.

The report notes that “Passwords are like toothbrushes. You should never share them, and you should change them periodically.” It makes sense that accounts filled with critical data—such as bank accounts—require a more robust, more secure “toothbrush” than your social media accounts. So it’s essential to use different passwords for different accounts and shake them up from time to time.

The following is the percent of consumers in each age bracket who believe that it’s okay to use the same password for an online bank account that they use for other online accounts.

  • 44% of consumers aged 18-44
  • 33% of big bank customers
  • 22% of community bank customers
  • 25% of credit union members

Password Setting Best Practices

  1. Create a password with at least 15 characters.
  2. Prioritize length, but don’t rule out complexity, as it amplifies strength.
  3. Use unique passwords for all important accounts.
  4. Always use multi-factor authentication when available to supplement passwords.
  5. Change password if evidence of compromise exists.

Regarding POS (point-of-sale) password security, Teksetra recommends setting a unique password with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You might also consider using two-factor authentication for added security.

Confident Consumers

Poll findings indicate that American consumers may be too confident in their ability to handle a personal data breach. While 69% claim they would know what to do in the event of a breach, the results of the sixth annual Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report suggest otherwise. For instance, 40% of Americans admit they don’t know how to protect themselves from cybercrime, and over three-fourths wish they had more information on handling identity theft.

This data presents yet another opportunity for financial institutions to educate members on the steps to take if their information is compromised. It also signals the need for consumers to educate themselves on how to protect their data better. So, what are the first steps you should take post-breach? The report lists four key steps:

Steps to Take After a Personal Cybersecurity Breach

  1. Notify your bank, insurance company, and credit reporting agencies.
  2. Close all financial accounts and reopen them with different passwords and PINs.
  3. Take action to reverse fraudulent charges and file a police report.
  4. Carefully monitor your credit report for the next year.

Consumer Trust In Financial Institutions

This year’s poll revealed that 76% of Americans agree that their financial institution can protect their personal and payment data from hackers. Likewise, nearly four in five credit union members and community bank customers express this trust. Interestingly, 81% of respondents aged 35-44 believe their institution can protect their data, but this number dropped to just 72% among the 18-34 bracket.

To help establish better trust with their customers, community financial institutions can reinforce measures for safeguarding customer data through institution-sponsored cybersecurity awareness training. They can also avoid making headlines for cyber attacks. Implementing strong security controls and multiple layers of protection can better position your institution to fend off threats.

The poll findings demonstrate the need for more significant security measures to build trust between banks and their customers. One of their options for implementing biometric identifiers, which most commonly include voice recognition, fingerprint recognition, behavioral biometrics, and retinal scanning.

There are many benefits to using biometric technology in the financial sector. For one, banks can ensure fast and accurate identification. Also, there’s no need for additional equipment or human operators with biometric data, which allows financial institutions to reduce operational costs. However, banks should still be aware of their costs, and if you’re interested in implementing this technology, you’ll want to consider planning it into your IT budget for the new year. You need to consider everything from staffing to software, considering how each aspect of your IT process can help improve cybersecurity.

Implement the Key Cybersecurity Takeaways

If there’s one thing to take from the 2021 Consumer Cybersecurity Poll, it’s that American consumers, while confident in their banks’ ability to protect their data, lack the appropriate education to become truly secure in their cyber activities. Financial institutions play a prominent role in helping customers protect their personal information and providing guidance on digital safety.

Teksetra offers many financial solutions, including IT support, project services, and remote deposit capture. As banks and other financial institutions look for ways to build trust with their customers, cybersecurity should always be top of mind, and Teksetra’s solutions can help improve processes to make that possible. Reach out today to learn more!

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