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After Heartbleed, 1 in 4 Americans think their online data is not safe

National Security Agency
Heartbleed fallout: 26% of U.S. web users don't think their online personal information is safe, survey finds

Among adult Internet users in the U.S., 26% said they do not believe their online personal information is secure following the discovery of the Heartbleed bug, a survey released Wednesday said. 

The data comes from PEW Research, which conducted a survey regarding Heartbleed this month. The survey polled 1,501 adults and has a margin error of 2.9%. 

Heartbleed is a major online security bug that was only recently discovered. The bug created a hole within OpenSSL, a software used by countless websites to protect sensitive user data. A fix for the issue was released this month, but Internet users were encouraged to change the passwords for all their online accounts as a result of Heartbleed. 

Following media coverage of Heartbleed, 39% of American Internet users said they took steps to protect their data by either changing their passwords or deleting Internet accounts. However, 6% of Internet users said they believe they have had their data stolen as a result of Heartbleed, according to the PEW Research report. 

Though 26% of Internet users do not believe their data is secure, 46% said they believe their information is "somewhat secure" and 23% said they thought their data was "very secure" following Heartbleed.

So far, not many Heartbleed security beaches have been reported, but in Canada, the deadline for tax filings was extended after a 19-year-old allegedly hacked the country's tax revenue agency and stole data for 900 Canadians. 

In total, 60% of American adults said they heard about Heartbleed, with 19% saying they had heard "a lot" about it and 41% saying they had only heard "a little." Although many Americans heard about Heartbleed, last year more heard about Edward Snowden's National Security Agency leaks, with 51% of adults saying they heard "a lot" and 35% saying they heard "a little" about that story.

Though Heartbleed is the biggest security hole found so far in 2014, April was filled with other notable security bugs and breaches.

AOL recently confirmed it suffered a security breach that affected a significant number of its users. As a result, 2% of its email users have had their email accounts imitated as part of a spam campaign. 

A major security bug was also discovered within Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser that leaves users vulnerable to websites containing malicious code that can create a backdoor in their computers for hackers. It is strongly recommended Internet Explorer not be used until a patch for the bug is issued, which is expected to happen May 13.  

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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