Cybersecurity expert offers tips to stay secure online while wrapping up this holiday shopping season

PHOENIX, December 15, 2016—University of Phoenix today announced results from its cybersecurity survey that found that 52 percent of U.S. adults are willing to overlook cybersecurity risks for the sake of convenience, which could negatively affect online shoppers as the close of this holiday season approaches. According to the survey, most respondents (60 percent) using unsecure, open Wi-Fi networks don’t trust them with the security of their data, yet, the convenience of using the unsecured network outweighed any potential risk.

“Millions of Americans are finishing up their holiday shopping looking for last minute deals online to make sure the perfect gift arrives in time,” said Dr. Kirsten Hoyt, academic dean, University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology1. “Despite the fact that public networks are vulnerable to security breaches and hacking, the data from our survey suggests people have fairly comfortable attitudes toward using them—perhaps a little too comfortable.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • 80 percent of respondents reported they connect to public Wi-Fi networks at least once a week
  • 61 percent of respondents indicated they use internet devices, such as cell phones, laptops or tablets, on public networks daily
  • 39 percent of respondents state they trust public Wi-Fi
  • 26 percent of respondents state they strongly agree that there is no real difference between secured and unsecured networks

A wireless network is considered unsecured when it does not have barriers in place, such as firewalls or passwords, to protect personal information. They are not as secure in protecting data as well as a home or work network could,2 which could be particularly risky when online users enter credit card and other personal information. Twenty-eight percent of 18-34 year-olds shop regularly on unsecured networks, according to the survey, which was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology, putting financial and personal information at even greater risk.

To help keep personal cybersecurity top of mind this holiday season, Dr. Hoyt suggests the following simple practices to keep information secure while shopping online:

  1. Before providing any personal information to a retailer, make sure you verify how your information will be used and stored.
  2. Be cautious about clicking on links or opening attachments in emails from people you do not know. Emails may contain malware that will allow cybercriminals to steal information and hack devices.
  3. Ensure that your devices are secure and their protection is up to date. Install anti-virus software and set your operating system software to automatically download new security patches as they become available.
  4. Be alert for fake websites, and do not share any personal or financial information with a website you do not trust. Stick to familiar websites when shopping online. If you have to use an unfamiliar website, check the web domain on bbb.com or scamadvisor.com.

“It’s even easier than you think to have personal information hacked online, but there are steps you can take to help protect yourself,” Dr. Hoyt said. “The holiday season should be filled with joy, and taking the proper precautions to safely shop online can help make sure you have a happy holiday and that the gifts you have ordered arrive and arrive on time.”

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between Sept. 21-30, 2016, among 2,235 US adults aged 18 and older, who use a mobile device on a network other than in their own home or at a workplace. For the purposes of this report, qualified respondents will be referred to as “rogue Wi-Fi” users. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Cooper Nelson at cooper.nelson@apollo.edu.

About College of Information Systems and Technology

University of Phoenix® College of Information Systems and Technology is a leader and advocate for the development and advancement of IT in global business operations. The College offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Its Faculty Advisory Council, composed of experts and leaders in the field, helps ensure curriculum is on pace with national and international market demands.  Providing innovative digital learning tools developed to suit all learning styles, the College focuses on building technical knowledge and its successful application to real-world business environments. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu/technology.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.

Survey Methodology

This poll was conducted by Morning Consult from Aug. 23 – Sept. 3, 2016, among a national sample of 10,113 registered voters. E-interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, region, annual household income, home ownership status and marital status. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage points. To learn more about the survey results, please contact Angela Heisel at angela.heisel@apollo.edu.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.

 

[1] U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Statistics (2015). Characteristics of Postsecondary Faculty: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_csc.asp

[2][3] University of Phoenix Academic Annual Report: http://www.phoenix.eduhttp://www.phoenix.edu/content/dam/altcloud/doc/about_uopx/academic-annual-report-2015.pdf