Skip to Main Content Skip to bottom Skip to Chat, Email, Text

University of Phoenix Survey Finds Threat of Cybercrime Prompts Nearly 3 in 4 U.S. Adults to Change Online Behaviors

By University of Phoenix

Almost half have experienced a security breach, but vast majority have not invested in theft protection

PHOENIX, Oct. 22, 2015 — Data breach instances increased 23 percent in 2014[1] and U.S. adults are taking notice. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) say they have changed their online behavior due to the threat of cybercrime, according to a new survey from University of Phoenix® College of Information Systems and Technology conducted online by Harris Poll in September among 2,028 U.S. adults. Forty-six percent are not conducting transactions on a shared computer, followed by 35 percent each who are changing passwords more often, not giving out personal information online, and not using public Wi-Fi.

U.S. adults’ perception of security is also changing as a result of cyber security concerns. More than two-in-five (42 percent) believe we are less secure than we were five years ago and 44 percent report they have experienced a personal security breach. Despite feeling less secure, 81 percent have not invested in any form of online theft or identity theft protection.

“Our daily tasks have become inextricably linked to online activity, and as a result, so too will our exposure to information security vulnerabilities,” said Dennis Bonilla, executive dean for University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology. “Despite living in a web-based world, our people are our most coveted asset to protect against security risks so that we may continue to use technology to support our daily lives.”

Trust in health care, financial, education sectors high; retail and government less so

The health care industry alone accounted for 37 percent of all data breaches in 2014, marking the fourth year in a row the industry saw more cyber-attacks than any other sector[2]. However, 68 percent of U.S. adults still trust the health care industry with their personal data. Almost seven in 10 also put some or a lot of trust in the financial (68 percent) and education (67 percent) sectors.

Other industries did not fare as well. Only half of U.S. adults say they trust the retail industry with their personal data and only 41 percent say they put some or a lot of trust in government.

“Reliance on the internet by both industry and consumers only continues to grow,” Bonilla said. “Therefore, it’s critical that education providers work with industry to prepare a pipeline of professionals equipped with the skills needed to preserve online integrity of individuals and businesses alike.”

Consumers look to public and private sectors to address cybercrime

When it comes to fighting cybercrime, nearly all U.S. adults (93 percent) say the public and private sectors should do something. Most adults pointed to investing in more cyber security technology (72 percent) or personnel (46 percent) as ways to combat cybercrime. The need for additional professionals is especially pertinent as it is estimated that the global shortfall in the information security workforce will reach 1.5 million in five years[3].

“Higher education institutions must work with industry leaders to meet the workforce demand by attracting a broader pool of candidates into the field and providing them with innovative curriculum that is aligned with industry standards,” stated Bonilla. “At University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology, we are working to accomplish this by offering a number of cyber security certificate programs that can be taken stand alone or en-route with an IT degree.”

Tips for protecting your online identity

According to Bonilla, there are a few simple tips you can follow to protect yourself online:

  1. Select quality passwords and change them often. Passwords are the easiest way for thieves to access accounts that hold important information stored on the web. To make it harder for them to access, use passwords that utilize letters, numbers and characters.
  2. Beware of emails from people you don’t know. Be especially careful of emails with attachments and links. Many times these emails will contain viruses and malware that provide cybercriminals access to your computer.
  3. Always use a firewall and keep it up to date. These are great tools for blocking viruses that may inadvertently be installed on your computer. Most computers and software come with a firewall already installed. If not, there are a variety of free programs available.
  4. Don’t give out personal information online. Most organizations have a policy not to ask for any personal information via email. If you receive something questionable, feel free to reach out to the organization to verify the email’s or request’s authenticity.
  5. Make sure the browser is secure. When providing any credit card or other financial information online, look for the lock in your browser. The padlock indicates a secure connection protected by encryption technology.

For more information about each of these programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program and other important information, please

For more information about University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology degree programs, visit

This year’s cyber security survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Apollo Group via its Quick Query omnibus product from September 2-4, 2015, among 2,028 adults ages 18 and older. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jennifer Marshall at

About the 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, ensures 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

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

[1] Symantec: Internet Security Threat Report, April 2015, page 16

[2] Symantec: Internet Security Threat Report, April 2015, page 82

[3] 2015 (ISC)2 Global Information Security Workforce Study, page 3