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People careless despite data theft worries

February 26, 2017

Many Americans don’t trust companies or institutions — particularly the federal government and social media sites — to protect their personal information.

It’s not hard to understand why.

According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, some two-thirds of Americans have fallen victim to at least one kind of data theft or fraud. That includes 41 percent with fraudulent charges on their credit cards, 35 percent who received notice about a data breach, 16 percent who had their email accounts hacked, 13 percent who had a social media account taken over and 14 percent who had someone try to take out a loan or credit in their name.

Ironically, despite their concerns, many people continue to be careless when it comes to their own online habits, Pew found.

For example, 41 percent of adults say they’ve shared a password to an online account with a friend or family member, while 39 percent say they use the same or a very similar password for many different accounts. And 25 percent admit to using easy-to-crack passwords so they can remember them.

Americans also find it challenging to safely keep track of an ever-growing list of passwords.

While cybersecurity experts generally advise using password management software as the safest way to store and keep tabs on multiple accounts, just 12 percent of internet users said they did so, Pew found. Password management programs — such as Dashlane, Sticky Password and Password Boss — securely store and organize passwords, and generate strong passwords for each secure website users visit.