New research by NordLocker, a file protection tool, reveals that 67% of computer users in America admit to having fallen victim to a malicious cyber activity at least once. Almost every second user from the US has had their computer infected with a virus, 3 out of 10 have fallen for a scam email, and as many as 7% have been asked to pay a ransom to regain access to their own digital data.
“Such a big number of Americans suffering from cybercrime foregrounds the seriousness of the situation: hacker activity is spiking, and public education on the matter needs improvement,” explains Oliver Noble, a digital privacy expert at NordLocker.
The study also reveals that those who have been victims of cyberattacks tend to take their digital security more seriously. 39% of US users who haven‘t experienced any malicious cyber activity don‘t protect their files. The number decreases to only 16% among those who have.
File sharing practices
Despite being a frequent target for cybercriminals, email is the most popular means of sharing files for 58% of US users. “People shouldn‘t trust email with transmitting their personal information to others. If your email gets compromised, all of your attachments with confidential documents or personal photos can be accessed by malicious actors,” explains Oliver Noble.
According to the survey, other ways Americans use to share their files include cloud services (35%), messaging apps (27%), and external drives (15%).
File storing and protection habits in the US
The surveyed Americans reveal that personal photos (71%) take up most of their computer space. Since the American tax filing system requires people to store their tax information, 33% of users store this highly sensitive information on their computers. Respondents also keep work-related documents (30%), medical records (23%), and personal adult content like nudes or sex videos (17%) on their computer hard drives.
Respondents consider their photos more valuable than work-related data (67% vs. 65%). According to Oliver Noble, the fact that people consider their work-related information less valuable puts employers at great risk. “Sometimes users underestimate the importance of the data they store on personal computers and how harmful it can become if fallen into the wrong hands.”
The survey by NordLocker shows that every second person in the US shares their personal computer with other people, such as their children, parents, or spouses. To keep their information private, 75% of respondents claim they use some sort of file protection, with passwords being the most common choice (46%). 12% reveal they hide their files on the computer manually.
“Even though encryption is the safest way to protect files, our research shows that only 1 out of 10 Americans uses a file encryption tool to protect information on their computers,” says Oliver Noble. “The survey results conclude that average computer users still don’t pay enough attention to the security of their data. Luckily, the situation may be improving, as half of Americans (50%) have heard about the possibility of protecting their files with encryption”.
The file encryption tool NordLocker has anonymously surveyed 700 people in the US to find out about users’ habits when it comes to file storage and sharing as well as to understand how people protect their sensitive data.
NordLocker is a tool that secures files stored on a computer or in the cloud with end-to-end encryption. It was created by the cybersecurity experts behind NordVPN – one of the most advanced VPN service providers in the world. NordLocker is available for Windows and macOS. For more information: nordlocker.com.