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University of Phoenix Survey Reveals Nearly Half of US Adults have Experienced a Personal Data Breach in the Past Three Years

By University of Phoenix

In observance of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the University will offer a free cyber hygiene resource to help inform US adults about data breaches

PHOENIX, Oct. 2, 2018 – University of Phoenix is joining the cause to spread education and mindfulness of cybersecurity best practices in observance of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. To better inform the public of the severity of data breaches, the University today released data from its annual cybersecurity survey. According to the national survey, 43 percent of U.S. adults said that they have experienced a personal data breach in the past three years.

Cybercrime is on the rise.[1] The ubiquity of connected devices and increasing human attack surface provide a larger target for cybercriminals. According to the survey, only 17 percent of U.S. adults feel somewhat/more secure from cyberattacks today compared to last year. The effect of these breaches can be devastating. The survey found that 43 percent of U.S. adults who were attacked learned of the first time within 24 hours, which can be enough time for credit card numbers to be obtained or personal information stolen.

“People often trade security for convenience online and with mobile applications. In today’s connected age, it is critical that everyone has a basic knowledge of online best practices to help better secure their information and protect themselves,” said Doris Savron, Vice Provost, Academic Colleges at University of Phoenix. “University of Phoenix is proud to join the cause to spread the message of online education and safety throughout October to support National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.”

With vast amounts of personal information available online, people must remain vigilant to avoid potential pitfalls that can leave them vulnerable. However, the survey found that 78 percent of U.S. adults admit to having at least one “bad online habit” that cybercriminals can exploit. These habits include:

  • Using the same email address when creating online accounts (48 percent)
  • Using the same passwords across multiple accounts (41 percent)
  • Allowing social media sites and apps to access personal information (31 percent)

Along with improving online habits, taking proactive measures to protect data and sensitive information can help protect accounts and limit the damage after a breach occurs. The survey suggests that U.S. adults may not be doing enough to thwart cybercriminals. Only 45 percent reported that they update security settings, 32 percent change passwords frequently and 22 percent back up/encrypt data.

“While cyberattacks can never fully be averted, U.S. adults are exacerbating their bad habits by not taking measures to help prevent attacks,” Savron said. “Cybercriminals are constantly evolving with technological advancements to exploit bad online habits to steal information. This further emphasizes the need to be educated on the methods criminals use and how to keep pace with security measures.”

In support of the month’s theme of educating connected device users of how to stay safe online, the University will offer a free online cyber hygiene lecture that will be available in perpetuity on the University’s website. This resource is designed to educate participants on the methods malicious hackers use in cyberattacks and the steps that can be taken to help proactively limit breaches and protect personal information.

To view the interactive cyber hygiene lecture and access a visual representation of the complete survey findings, visit

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between April 26 and May 10, 2018 among 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, who work full-time, part-time, are self-employed, are unemployed looking for work, students, or homemakers, of which 859 have been hacked in the past three years. Figures for number of employees were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For complete survey methodology, please contact

About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is 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. 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