Increased digital adoption since the start of COVID-19 is leaving consumers more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, according to McAfee’s 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Report.
The analysis found that Brits across all age groups have embraced new digital solutions amid ongoing social distancing restrictions. Nearly three-quarters purchased at least one connected device in 2020 and one in five brought at least three. However, more than half (56%) did not adopt or purchase any additional security solutions last year, while almost two-thirds (65%) said they have never considered the value of their data stored online.
There was also a significant increase in the amount of data shared online, with 71% of Brits using digital features designed for convenience for the first time in 2020, including text and email notifications (39%) and paperless transaction records (37%).
Amongst the ‘boomer’ generation, aged 55-74, over half (52%) revealed they have either introduced or increased their use of digital tools to adopt their social lives, including the use of social media. Close to half (46%) began or increased their use of online banking, with 82% stating they would continue to do so beyond COVID-19. Encouragingly, this group were more vigilant on security than any other, with over half (52%) “always” checking if the software on their devices is up-to-date.
Those aged 19-34 also ramped up their use of digital solutions, with 65% starting to, or increasing online shopping, while 53% grew their use of online banking. However, this generation were weakest on security, with 28% admitting they have never checked if their device software is up-to-date.
Terry Hicks, EVP of McAfee’s Consumer Business, commented: “The first step in protecting ourselves is realizing that there’s a lot we can do to stay safe online and to preserve our digital wellness. Yet, there’s a long way to go for British consumers.
“It’s important to remember that we can always work on our own safe online habits – from the apps we install, to the websites we click on, to the emails we open. Making this shift in our mindset and behaviors is a necessity in protecting what we value most – our privacy and identity – giving Brits much needed peace of mind as they continue their digital adoption.”
Reflecting on the rise in online banking last year, Adam Philpott, EMEA president, McAfee, added: “The pandemic has forced many changes that we expect to stick even after the restrictions lift, whether this is the way we shop or the way we look after our money. Services like online banking empower the consumer to manage their finances at any given moment, but this also comes with an abundance of potential risks and threats if the correct procedures aren’t put in place.
“With the UK public’s increasing reliance on digital banking, financial services organizations need to protect and educate their customers on how best to protect their finances and personal data. This will be especially important for customers using online banking for the first time.”