One in five U.S. households with at least one internet user said they experienced an online security breach, identity theft or a similar crime during the past year, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration survey, “November 2017 CPS Computer and Internet Use Supplement.”
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, surveyed more than 123,000 consumers living in more than 52,000 households in 50 states and Washington, D.C. The survey is conducted as a supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. More than 43,000 of the households had at least one internet user and were asked additional privacy and security questions.
The 20% of households that have experienced a security breach is up from 19% in the 2015 survey. This group is more concerned about privacy risks and avoided certain online activities because of security concerns, compared with households that had not experienced a security breach, according to the survey.
For example, 70% of breached households in 2017 said they were concerned about identify theft, compared with 54% of non-breached homes.
What’s more, of households that reported a security breach, 33% said that at some point over the past year, they declined to conduct a financial transaction on the internet—such as checking out on an e-commerce site—because of a security concern, compared with only 22% of non-breached households.
Similarly, 14% of breached households declined to conduct an online search at some point last year, compared with 7% of non-breached households.
When the data is analyzed overall, with breached and non-breached households together, privacy concerns have decreased or remained the same in recent years:
- 57% of households had concerns about identity theft in 2017, compared with 63% in 2015
- 45% had concerns about credit card or banking fraud, the same as the previous survey.
- 22% had concerns about data collection by online service providers, down from 23%
- 16% had concerns about data collection by the government, down from 18%
The survey also analyzed internet usage overall for U.S. households.
For devices, the survey revealed increases in use for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs/internet-connected TVs and wearable devices (such as a fitness band or smartwatch), while desktop use declined and laptop use remained consistent. In fact, tablet use surpassed desktop use for the first time. Here is the breakdown:
- 64% of U.S. consumers ages 3 and up used a smartphone in 2017, compared with 53% in 2015
- 46% used a laptop, the same as 2015
- 34% used a smart TV/connected TV, up from 29%
- 32% used a tablet, up from 27%
- 30% used desktop, down from 34%
- 8% used a wearable device, up from 1%
The survey also found:
- 78% of U.S. consumers ages 3 and up had used the internet as of November 2017, up from 75% in July 2015
- 62% of U.S. consumers used at least two internet-connected devices
- Internet use increased to 62%, up from 57% in 2015 for households with family income less than $25,000 per year
- 86% of U.S. households in the highest income bracket, $100,000 and up, used the internet, the same as in 2015
- Seniors increased their internet usage to 63% of consumers in 2017, up from 56% in 2015
- More households, at 88.9 million, had mobile data plans than wired broadband service, at 85.3 million households