According to the Identity Theft Resource Center there have been 447 data breaches so far in 2014 exposing over 11 million records across a number of industries. From 2012 to 2013 the number of breaches identified as "hacking" has increased by just over 20%, from 129 to 160 breaches. Understandably, Americans have become more concerned about security with 47% reporting to be more worried about cyber security this year than last year.
This past April a security bug in OpenSSL (the protocol used to secure everything from Facebook to Etsy) called Heartbleed threatened to expose private account information to hackers. Last week, the New York Times ran an exclusive story about a Russian crime ring that had amassed 1.2 billion username/password combinations and over 500 million email addresses in what was called the "largest collection of stolen Internet credentials" ever.
It's no wonder that 91% of Americans consider cyber security to be somewhat or very important and only 8% are unconcerned about the prospect of being hacked.
In spite of these high profile security breaches Americans tend to feel that their data is secure and only 21% have had their online accounts hacked. Women feel that their data is less secure than men but don't update their account passwords any more often than men. And Americans ages 18 - 34 tend to be less concerned than those 35 - 55+ about the prospect of getting hacked.
One of the simplest ways to keep from being hacked is to use different passwords for different accounts and to change passwords every few months. Yet 75% of people use the same password for multiple sites and 33% use the same password for every site as reported by CheckMate.
Despite increased concern about Internet security only 63% of Americans have changed the password on their personal email account in the past year, 53% have updated their online banking password and fewer than half have updated their social media passwords in the past year.