In many cases, fear can be more contagious than a virus itself. The emergence of the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug illustrated this. The bug — which hypothetically provided attackers with an easy opening to breach large segments of the Internet — led computing users to be understandably concerned about the state of their personal security.
Certain incidents following news of Heartbleed, including an intrusion on the Canadian Revenue Agency’s internal infrastructure that directly harnessed the OpenSSL vulnerability, gave individuals more reason to be alarmed.
This sense of alarm has prompted a proactive response among many users. A new post-Heartbleed report showed that not only are computing users taking more precautions following the bug, but also that they are more skeptical than ever about their personal information security. What this suggests is that for companies thought to lack strong authentication and other protective measures, business will almost undoubtedly decrease.
Research Center Report Sheds Light on General Lack of Faith in Personal Security
While most computing security news stories may go unnoticed by the general public, Heartbleed is not one of them. According to a survey of 1,501 computing users conducted by the Pew Research Center, 39 percent of those polled not only heard about the bug, but took proactive measures to defend against it like changing their passwords.
But despite taking these steps to bolster personal security, respondents said they actively fear for their information safety. Of those surveyed, 29 percent said they fear the Heartbleed bug has threatened the safety of their data, while 6 percent believe that their personal information was actually stolen.
The Heartbleed effect is apparently seeping into the public perception of online security in general, as evidenced by the fact that more than a quarter of respondents said they believe online computing is not secure.
Findings like these suggest that businesses need to take as stringent measures as possible to ensure the safety of their clientele.
To Boost Business, Companies Must Boost Enterprise Security
Looking at the Pew report, it is reasonable to assume that today’s average customer will have very little tolerance when it comes to business security lapses. If they have any reason to believe their personal information such as credit card data isn’t safe in the company system, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
Recovery from a breach is never guaranteed, and a malicious incursion can often be business-ending for smaller operations. That is why stronger authentication measures are advised for companies of all sizes in order to keep malware at bay.