For the first time, the Chubb annual study on cyber risk finds that more people are taking concrete steps to protect their personal information and data from cyber-attacks.  While the progress is encouraging, poor cyber-security behaviors remain far too common, according to the 2022 survey.

The Chubb Fifth Annual Study on Personal Cyber Risk, which is based on a public opinion poll of 1,605 adults in the U.S. and Canada, was conducted by Dynata. Key findings include:

People are getting better about protecting themselves from cyber risks.  In 2022, more than half of Americans and Canadians (51%) reported using multi-factor authentication to log into their online accounts, which is twice the level found in the 2021 survey.  What’s more, nearly 80% say they prefer to use multi-factor authentication. Adoption of practices such as regularly clearing browser histories and using password protection apps, pop-up blockers and malware protection were also up significantly from 2021.

People have trouble keeping track of their passwords and are annoyed when they have to change them. Three in five (61%) report having trouble keeping track of their passwords. A similar share (63%) gets annoyed when they are forced to update their passwords.

Pet passwords still predominate.  The good news: three out of four people report updating the password for their primary bank account in the last 12 months, and 70% have voluntarily updated a password for a digital account without being required to by the provider.  The bad news: half are still including the name of their pet or another identifiable name or date in the new password. Nearly 85% of high-net worth Americans and Canadians use such identifiable terms or dates in their passwords – more than three times the rate of middle-income respondents (27%).

The wealthy are most likely to be the target of a cyber-attack involving money. In the last year, nearly 30% of high-net worth respondents reported falling victim to a cyber-attack that involved their money. That’s twice the average for all income groups and seven times the frequency cited by middle-income respondents. Mass affluent and high net worth consumers were twice as likely as the members of the middle class to have fraudulent charges made on their credit card.

“Our fifth annual report on personal cyber risk has a compelling narrative: Awareness of and concern over cyber threats is high and growing. At the same time, people are annoyed and frustrated by taking actions to protect themselves online. Thankfully, the gap between awareness and action has started to narrow,” said Ana Robic, Division President, Chubb North America Personal Risk Services. “While the progress is encouraging, risky behaviors are still too prevalent. Individuals and families should remain vigilant in defending themselves against cyber perils and know that there are risk management solutions to help ensure protection in the event of a personal cyber incident.”

Additional findings include:

People are worried about catastrophic cyber-attacks. Americans and Canadians are concerned about the threat of large-scale cyber-attacks that could cause widespread damage and chaos. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) are concerned that there will be a significant cyber-attack on the power grid in the U.S. Large majorities are worried about the threat of a cyber-attack waged by a hostile foreign country (85%) and cyber-attacks on a nuclear power plant, chemical factory or water supply (84%).

People are pretty sure their devices are eavesdropping on them. Four out of five respondents (79%) believe their virtual assistants and streaming devices can listen to their conversations. Another 11% aren’t sure. In addition, two out of three respondents (67%) believe they have received an advertisement based on a conversation they’ve had that was captured by a virtual assistant or streaming device. Wealthy and affluent people are most likely to believe this.

Personal cyber insurance is becoming more common. About two in five (39%) currently have a personal cyber insurance policy. Wealthy consumers are much more likely to have this coverage. But an equal share of people is unfamiliar with personal cyber insurance, including 19% who are not at all familiar with the protections that personal cyber coverage offers individuals and families.

People understand that not all cyber risks are equal. 90% of respondents believe the app from their primary bank is secure. That’s much higher than for personal finance (68%) or peer-to-peer payment apps (70%). Less than half of consumers are confident in the security of other apps, such as social media (48%), fitness (48%), and online dating (40%), which ranked lowest among the app categories cited in the survey. A related finding: consumers most fear the breach of their financial information. More than half (53%) say a breach of their financial information is the most concerning type of breach.

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