Cyber breach pain in 2022 sparks big jump in Aussies’ data loss fears

PayPal data loss concerns fears

After several high-profile data breach events last year affecting nearly half the Australian population, three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents to a recent survey have expressed an increase in concern over the safety and security of their online and financial data versus 12 months ago.

PayPal Australia’s 2023 Security Research paper revealed Australians’ increasing concern over their online safety, particularly in the wake of multiple high-profile data loss events in 2022, including the Medibank and Optus breaches.

According to Australia’s Office of the Information Commissioner (OAIC), within the space of four months in 2022, cyber breaches affected the equivalent number of nearly half (47 per cent) of the Australian population.

The increasing proliferation and news coverage around scams appears to have seeped into the collective consciousness, with most respondents (65 per cent) to the survey expressing concern over the increasing sophistication of scams.

Fears were also expressed over the loss of personal details to criminals on the dark web (55 per cent), the safety and security of personal data being shared with businesses (52 per cent), and companies’ control over personal data and how it is used (51 per cent).

On a generational split, Baby Boomers (those between 57-75 years of age) reported the greatest increase in concern over the past 12 months, with more than three in four in this generation (77 per cent) reporting heightened cybersecurity fears.

However, PayPal noted that “increased anxiety is seen across all generations”.

“Fortunately, Australian consumers have also become more vigilant, demonstrating a commitment to bolstering their online security practices.”

More than nine out of 10 consumers (93 per cent) revealed they have taken at least one proactive measure to protect themselves online.

Among these measures include treating calls, emails, and texts with more suspicion (81 per cent), enabling two-factor authentication (74 per cent), using PayPal for e-commerce transactions (63 per cent), improving passwords (60 per cent), and educating themselves about identifying scams (54 per cent).

When shopping online, more than one in three (37 per cent) Australians noted that they had abandoned purchases due to security concerns or because their preferred payment option was not available.

“The breaches that impacted Australians a year ago were a reminder to all of us that we can’t be complacent when it comes to cyber security, especially as more aspects of our day-to-day lives shift online,” said Daniela Fernandez, head of information security at PayPal Australia.

“Every online action and transaction carries a measure of risk, but each of us has the ability to reduce the danger with simple steps to help protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

Survey findings were based drawn from an online study conducted by Fifth Quadrant. More than 1,000 consumers, between the ages of 18 and 75, and 400 business decision-makers took part in the survey.