Does “Bad Online Habits” equal Data Breach?

A recent survey by University of Phoenix found that nearly half (43 percent) of U.S. adults have experienced a personal data breach in the past three years.[1] Perhaps unsurprisingly, a greater number of those who had been hacked admitted to having a number of “bad online habits.” The survey found that 88 percent of respondents who had experienced a data breach said that they have at least one bad online habit, compared to 71 percent who had never been hacked.

Bad habits include using the same email and/or password when creating multiple online accounts. If one account is compromised, cyber criminals can use stolen credentials to access all accounts using the same login information. 35 percent of those surveyed often use easy-to-find information. This includes birthdays and pet’s names, for their passwords. It is easy to see how this habit can lead to major security concerns.

US Adults with These “Bad Online Habits” are More Likely to Have Experienced a Data Breach, Survey Finds

The same line of logic is now applied to allowing websites access to personal information and storing credit card information online. In these circumstances, individuals are sharing more information online. They are putting themselves at a higher risk for the sake of convenience. Users must be aware of what information is available online. It is important to know how to protect it and react if a cyber attack occurs.


Eliminating these online habits is one way to help shield digital users from attacks. Another is taking proactive measures that can help protect accounts and limit the damage during the window after a breach occurs. Other suggested security measures include: avoiding opening suspicious emails; not clicking on unfamiliar URLs; installing firewalls, antivirus and malware protection; and using strong authentication on critical accounts and websites.

Technology usage and reliance is only expected to increase in the coming years. It is in the best interest of the 88 percent with bad online habits to change their behaviors. Criminals are only going to advance as new tech becomes available. It is critical that everyone is aware of their methods and knows how to protect themselves.

For more information on the survey findings or for additional resources on how to stay safe online, visit and

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