Web users have false sense of security: Truste, TNS

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Eighty-six percent of U.S. Internet users believe they know how to protect their personal information online, and 57 percent claim to consistently take the necessary steps to do so, according to new research from Truste and TNS.

However, there is a minority of Internet users who participate in common online privacy protection steps such as reading privacy statements (20 percent), backing up important files (37 percent), changing passwords on regular basis (33 percent) and using e-mail encryption (16 percent).

In regards to protecting their online identity, only 45 percent of Internet users have used more than one e-mail address so that one is reserved solely for their personal communication. Thirty-three percent have provided e-mail addresses and information that would not identify them personally, and 12 percent have logged in anonymously or used anonymizing or free ID Web sites to generate their ID.

In some cases, consumers are making choices to protect personal information. In the last six months, 71 percent of respondents did not register or buy online because they were required to provide information that they did not want to divulge. Forty-one percent said that they have provided inaccurate information to Web sites that required personal information, which respondents did not want to share.

Most users are familiar and do practice software related safety steps.

Of the 1,025 U.S. consumers polled, 81 percent have used anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software in the past six months. In addition, 76 percent have made sure their anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software is up to date, and 67 percent have configured their browser or operating system to block pop-ups, reject cookies or block specific Web sites.

Truste is based in San Francisco. TNS is a market information group with a network in more than 70 countries.

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