To understand how U.S. consumers view cybersecurity risks, CSI—a leading provider of fintech, regtech, and cybersecurity solutions—worked with The Harris Poll to survey more than 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and above.
Respondents were asked to identify their primary financial institution, providing a look into the perceptions of credit union members, big bank customers (e.g., Chase, Wells Fargo, etc.), community bank customers and those without a primary institution.
The data from this online survey was then used to create an executive report to help financial institutions understand consumers’ cybersecurity perceptions, providing insight into this year’s survey results and offering a comparison to data from a similar survey conducted in 2019.
Is Consumer Perception of Cybersecurity Issues Changing?
Although a substantial number of consumers (85%) reported cybersecurity concerns pertaining to their personal confidential data, 15% are not particularly worried—a surprising number considering the surge in pandemic-related cyberattacks.
By comparison, in 2019, 92% of consumers reported cybersecurity concerns pertaining to their personal confidential data, so this year’s decrease could signal that Americans are becoming desensitized to cybersecurity risks. The constant barrage of media coverage on this topic could be contributing to greater risk tolerance among consumers—potentially leading to adverse effects for institutions and making effective cybersecurity education even more important.
What Did CSI’s Consumer Cybersecurity Poll Reveal?
To gauge shifting perceptions, consumers were asked their thoughts regarding password habits, payments security, data breaches, and more. Here are a few takeaways:
Top Cybersecurity Concerns: Identity theft and stolen credit or debit card information tied as the top cybersecurity concerns among consumers, at 60% each. In 2019, identity theft topped the list of concerns at 73%, followed closely by stolen card information (72%). These changing perceptions among Americans indicate that institutions should prioritize cybersecurity education.
Repercussions of a Data Breach: Nearly half of respondents (48%) would leave their institution if it suffered a data breach, and 45% of credit union members agreed that a breach would cause them to leave. To mitigate the risk of member attrition, institutions should have an incident response plan to direct their actions in the event of a breach.
Strong Authentication: 30% of Americans agree that it is OK to use the same password for an online financial account that they use for other online accounts. To mitigate risks associated with lax security habits, credit unions should provide and promote multi-factor authentication.
Steps to Take Post-Breach: Most Americans (69%) believe they know what to do if their personal confidential data is compromised. While this result is encouraging, a clear opportunity exists for credit unions to continue educating members on the necessary steps to take after their information is compromised.
Perceptions of Secure Payments: Half of Americans (50%) believe a person’s payment information (i.e., account number) is more likely to be compromised when using a physical card versus a digital payment such as a contactless card or digital wallet.
Building Trust with Members: 76% agree their financial institution can protect their personal and payment information from hackers. In fact, 79% of credit union members agree with this, indicating that institutions should continue building trust among consumers.
The Importance of Cybersecurity Awareness and Education
Providing valuable education and promoting good cyber hygiene will mitigate cybersecurity risk for both your institution and members while increasing the potential for new business through knowledge sharing. To really capitalize on this opportunity, your credit union should be intentional and strategic in its planning:
Determine Your Members’ Needs: Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach; different members have varying needs and concerns.
Tailor Your Approach: Create campaigns to reach different groups, tailoring based on age, work schedules, etc.
Be Creative: Think creatively about how best to communicate with your members and deliver a compelling message.
Go Digital: Leverage digital channels to reach a broader audience.
Deliver Actionable Tips: Inspire confidence in your credit union by motivating members with actionable tips, such as best practices for creating strong passwords, etc.
Get the 2021 Consumer Cybersecurity Poll Executive Report
To strengthen defenses against evolving cyber threats, institutions should embrace a layered approach to cybersecurity, a key component of which includes providing members with continued education. Download the executive report for a deep dive into consumers’ perceptions surrounding cybersecurity.
Sean Martin serves as a product manager for CSI Managed Services and has extensive knowledge on implementing effective systems security and network management practices. He speaks and writes frequently on security-related topics affecting the financial services industry and holds Cisco CCNA and CCIE written certifications.