Data recently released by the Pew Research Center showed more Americans have experienced personal data breaches, with the number rising from 11 percent in July 2013 to 18 percent in January.
According to the survey, 21 percent of adults on the internet have experienced a security breach in email or social networking accounts—the number was unchanged from last year’s survey.
The discovery of the Heartbleed security flaw last week is the latest exposed vulnerability in a string of cyberattacks and data breaches. The bug has remained undetected for the past two years, and it is estimated to affect up to 66 percent of active websites.
“The consequences of these flaws and breaches may add insult to injury for those who have already experienced some kind of personal information theft,” the study said. “And research suggests that young adults and younger baby boomers may have been especially hard hit in the second half of 2013.”
According to the survey, seven percent of online adults ages 18 to 29 were aware that personal information such as Social Security number, credit card or bank account information, had been stolen.
Approximately 15 percent of young adults have experienced personal information theft, and consumers ages 50 to 64 were more likely to report they had personal information stolen.
“As online Americans have become ever more engaged with online life, their concerns about the amount of personal information available about them online have shifted as well,” the study said. “When we look at how broad measures of concern among adults have changed over the past five years, we find that internet users have become more worried about the amount of personal information available about them online…”