Cyberattacks and data breaches are facts of life for government agencies, businesses and individuals alike in today’s digitized and networked world. Just a few of the most high-profile breaches in 2016 alone include the hacking and subsequent release of emails from members of the Democratic National Committee; the release of testing records of dozens of athletes conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency; and the announcement by Yahoo that hackers had accessed the private information associated with roughly 1 billion email accounts.
Finally, in late 2016 and early 2017 U.S. intelligence agencies (the FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security) both issued statements and testified before Congress that the Russian government was involved in the hack of the DNC with the aim of influencing the 2016 presidential election.
Previous Pew Research Center studies of the digital privacy environment have found that many Americans fear they have lost control of their personal information and many worry whether government agencies and major corporations can protect the customer data they collect. As part of this ongoing series of studies on the state of online privacy and security, the Center conducted a national survey of 1,040 adults in the spring of 2016 to examine their cybersecurity habits and attitudes.
This survey finds that a majority of Americans have directly experienced some form of data theft or fraud, that a sizeable share of the public thinks that their personal data have become less secure in recent years, and that many lack confidence in various institutions to keep their personal data safe from misuse. In addition, many Americans are failing to follow digital security best practices in their own personal lives, and a substantial majority expects that major cyberattacks will be a fact of life in the future.
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