A majority of Americans are concerned about the safety and privacy of their personal data

However, many also acknowledge sharing passwords, reusing them, or other behaviors that could compromise their online behavior

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Johnny Sawyer Senior Research Manager, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 5, 2022 - Ahead of World Password Day, a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Google finds that Americans are highly concerned about the safety and privacy of the personal data that they provide on the internet. Along these lines, around one in three report that they have been the victim of an online data breach. However, despite high levels of concern, some Americans still engage in behaviors that could put their online information at risk, such as reusing passwords across accounts, noting passwords in their phone, sharing passwords, or only changing them when they have to.

Detailed Findings

1. Americans show a high level of concern about the safety and privacy of their personal data.

  • An overwhelming majority (84%) say that they are at least somewhat concerned about the safety and privacy of the personal data that they provide on the internet.
  • More Americans aged 55+ report concerns than those aged 18-34 (88% vs. 79%, respectively).
  • A majority, yet fewer than the number of Americans concerned about data privacy (63%), routinely check the security settings of their online accounts.
  • Just over a third of Americans (37%) say that personal data they have provided online has been compromised.
  • Among those that have had their data breached, more than nine in ten (92%) changed their password after the breach.

2. However, some reported behaviors around password hygiene and data security show that more can be done to secure our online information.

  • Two in three Americans (65%) report reusing passwords for different online accounts.
  • One in five use passwords considered common or easy to guess, and 52% incorporate personal information such as names and birthdays into their passwords.
  • Around one in three say they have shared their password with someone else or currently have access to the password for someone else’s online account.
  • Three in four (74%) report changing their passwords for their online accounts at least once per year, with 27% changing them once every three months.
  • Among those that change their passwords, 62% say they only change their passwords in situations where they have to, such as forgetting a password, compared to just 38% that routinely change their passwords after a set period of time.

3. When it comes to the steps people are taking to secure their data, more modern or automated methods are leading the way.

  • Two-factor authentication is a popular security method, with just under three in four Americans (73%) reporting they use this feature at least some of the time. A majority (66%) also report using completely random passwords with a mix of characters, while less than half use password manager services (44%).
  • Younger Americans are more likely to use two-factor authentication and password manager services, but they are also more likely to report reusing passwords for their online accounts.
  • Twenty-eight percent of those who have improved their password hygiene since the COVID-19 pandemic say they have done so because there are more convenient ways to manage strong passwords, while one in six say there are more cost-effective ways to manage strong passwords.
  • Fifty-eight percent of Americans say that it is more important to them to create a password that is strong and secure, compared to only 39% that prioritize creating a password that is easy to remember. Divides among age groups remain, with younger Americans more likely to say that creating a password they can remember is more important, and older Americans placing more importance on creating a strong and secure password.

4. A majority of Americans’ password hygiene has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Fifty-seven percent say that their password hygiene is about the same as before the pandemic. About a third (36%) say they have improved their password hygiene.
  • Americans aged 18-34 (44%) are more likely than those aged 55+ (27%) to say that their password hygiene has gotten better since the start of the pandemic.
  • Among those that say their password hygiene has improved, increased concern about cyber security threats (45%) is primary reason for improvement. This is followed by having more online accounts that require passwords (39%) and more sensitive data being online (32%).
  • However, in the wake of the pandemic, the number one thing people report sharing passwords on is streaming services (47%).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of a Ipsos poll, conducted on behalf of Google, conducted between April 1-7, 2022. For this survey, a sample of 4,000 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. Employees of Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook/Meta, and Microsoft were excluded.

The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 1.9 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=4,000, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-3.4 percentage points).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Mallory Newall
Vice President,
Public Affairs, U.S.
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Johnny Sawyer Senior Research Manager, US, Public Affairs