New study reveals that most American internet users consider identity theft and financial cybercrimes as the most dangerous, but other cybersecurity fears depend heavily on the generation
Most American internet users are concerned about the theft of their bank credentials or payment card information (63%) and theft of identity and social security numbers (62%), according to a survey commissioned by NordVPN. While these two types of cybercrimes raise the most significant concerns among all age groups, attitudes towards other common cyber fears have divided internet users of different generations.
“Cybersecurity fears are heavily influenced by the different ways generations perceive and use technology, personal experiences, and historical context, among other factors. Thus, a generational gap in the perception of dangers online is unavoidable,” says Marijus Briedis, CTO at NordVPN.
Gen Z is concerned about theft of personal photos, older generations – malware
Research reveals that the younger generation is more concerned about the theft of personal photos and videos as well as authentication credentials for social media and email. They are also worried that hackers could take over their webcam and CCTV.
While 30% of Gen Zers mention the theft of personal pictures or videos as one of the biggest dangers, only about 10% of baby boomers and 6% of the so-called silent generation have the same opinion. At the same time, Americans from Generation Z are more concerned about hacked webcams and CCTVs (29%), while it’s not considered to be a severe issue among baby boomers (10%) and the silent generation (9%).
Apart from theft of identity, social security numbers, or bank credentials and payment card information, the biggest concern for the older generations (more than 60%) is infecting devices with viruses or other malware. In comparison, only 34% of millennials and 38% of Generation Z mention it among the top cyber threats.
Older generations are concerned about critical infrastructure but not health information
The survey reveals a tangible generation gap regarding attitudes towards the danger of cyberattacks against critical infrastructure. While 40% of Americans above 65 years old mentioned cyberattacks on the water supply, energy grid, and other essential capabilities among the most worrying cybercrimes, only 24% of Generation Z share the same attitude.
“Every generation has a unique experience and understanding of the social and political context. That changes perspectives on various issues, including cybersecurity. The older generations lived through the Cold War when defense on infrastructure necessary for survival was key. Generation Z lives in a world where photo and video leaks of celebrities make headlines. This influences their attitude towards dangers online,” says Briedis.
On the other hand, the younger generations are more concerned about the security of their personal health information. While 25% of Generation Z consider health information theft as one of the most dangerous cybercrimes, only 11% of baby boomers see it as a severe threat.
This research was commissioned by NordVPN and carried out by Cint between July 7 and August 5, 2023. A total of 1,013 respondents 18 years old and older were surveyed. Researchers placed quotas on respondents’ gender, age, and place of residence to achieve a nationally representative sample among internet users.
NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by millions of internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption and Onion Over VPN and guarantees privacy with zero tracking. One of the key features of the product is Threat Protection, which blocks malicious websites and malware during downloads, trackers, and ads. NordVPN is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, and has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide. For more information: https://nordvpn.com.