What did our online survey reveal about online security?

Online survey about internet security

As you might know by now, we recently conducted an in-depth internet usage and attitude digital survey (online survey and mobile survey) among a representative sample of 2002 connected South Africans. One aspect of this online survey looked at how South Africans protect themselves online and what measures they take to ensure the security of their identities, personal details and accounts.

Here are some of the juicy stats we found from our market research survey

The majority of those who took our online survey cited having anti-virus programmes on their devices (75%), not clicking on links that they do not know the source of (66%) and not accepting invitations online from people they don’t know (62%). Only 50% stated that they regularly change their password. More extreme measures such as covering your computer or phone webcam and USB ports (a measure made popular by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg) is only taken by 8%.

While these statistics might seem reassuring, consider what this says about the things people are not doing when it comes to the basic online security:

  • 1 in 4 do not have anti-virus protection on their devices.
  • 1 in 3 have clicked on links they don’t know the source of
  • Only half, that’s 1 in 2 change their passwords regularly

The online survey also revealed that social media accounts are the most susceptible to being hacked

In total, 36% of consumers who took part in our online survey have been hacked in one way or another.

Looking at the most hacked accounts, social media accounts (19%), followed by personal email accounts (15%) seem to be the most vulnerable to hacks. Of even more concern is the 7% of consumers who stated that their bank accounts had been hacked, a statistic in line with what has been noted in our Internet Banking SITEisfaction study.

We recommend taking a proactive stance

Looking at what South Africans do to prevent their accounts from being hacked, the top 3 measures taken were:

  1. Make my password harder to hack (i.e. I use upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters) 67%
  2. Use anti-virus protection 53%
  3. Do not open unknown emails 44%

Still, 7% stated that they are not taking any specific measures to prevent their accounts from being hacked. A similar number of people (8%) felt that passwords using personal information such as date of birth, your full name or your pet’s name constitute the safest type of password.

Our CEO Dr Henk Pretorius offers some advice based on what we learned from this market research study: “These findings seem to confirm a lot of what we already know about human online behaviour However, individuals should clearly be taking more measures to protect themselves from potential financial and personal harm. The attempts at online fraud continue to grow in frequency and sophistication. It is important that South Africans educate themselves and also take responsibility for their online security”

Be safe out there and although it is quite a tedious task, update your passwords regularly 🙂