Aura Insights

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Nine Online Behaviors Putting You At Risk

Aura survey says many Americans know their online behaviors are risky, but they do them anyway

This October is the 18th Cybersecurity Awareness Month. CISA and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) are using the overarching theme: “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart,” encouraging Americans to educate themselves about the risks they face online and how to protect themselves from cybercrime. And this couldn’t come at a better time - according to IC3, losses to individuals and businesses totaled $4.2 billion in 2020, up 20 percent from 2019.


The government is taking steps to address this growing issue. They have held cybersecurity summits with the biggest tech companies in the world, recently announced a coalition of 30 countries to fight ransomware, and are focusing on boosting cybersecurity defenses across industries. But much of these efforts are at the macro and enterprise-level. How do consumers fit into this equation?


Recently, Aura commissioned a survey conducted online by The Harris Poll of over 2,000 U.S. adults, measuring their perspective on the future of cybercrime and data protection. What we found is that awareness of cybersecurity and risky behaviors might be widespread, but individual actions may continue to put Americans at risk.


What online behaviors do Americans know are risky? 9 Behaviors putting you at risk


There are multiple dangerous online habits that people develop due to a variety of factors – often adopting behaviors that are cheap, easy, and quick. But many of these habits are also putting you at risk of being hacked or getting your information stolen, which can impact your family or finances. U.S. adults feel there’s a lot of risk that their personal information will be accessed without their consent when they do the following:

  • Download software or files from third party sources without knowing their origin (62%)

  • Open emails from senders they don’t recognize (57%)

  • Use the same password on multiple accounts (54%)

  • Click on hyperlinks in social media posts (52%)

  • Use public wi-fi (52%)

  • Accept friend requests on social media from people they don’t know (51%)

  • Tag their location in photos posted on social media while they’re on vacation (49%)

  • Allow others to use their personal devices (49%)

  • Shop online (33%)

Knowledge of danger not stopping risky behaviors


Generally, people are aware of what behaviors can put them at risk online. An entirely different question becomes: is the knowledge of the risk preventing these behaviors? Aura found in many cases, it’s not.


Despite many seeing these activities as risky, most U.S. adults continue to:

  • Shop online a few times a month or more (68%)

  • Ever use the same password on multiple accounts (68%)

  • Ever access public wi-fi (68%)

Other behaviors people think are risky, but say they have done, include:

  • Clicking on hyperlinks in social media posts (49%)

  • Allowing others to use their personal devices (47%)

  • Opening emails from senders they don’t recognize (45%)

  • Accepting friend requests from people they don’t know on social media (44%)

  • Tagging their location in photos posted on social media while they are on vacation (43%)

  • Downloading software or files from third party sources without knowing their origin (42%)

Having experienced cyber or digital crimes in the past does not seem to deter U.S. adults from engaging in these behaviors. Aura found that victims of cybercrime are even more likely than their counterparts who haven’t experienced cybercrime to say they do these potentially risky online activities -- or perhaps it’s these are the behaviors that put them at more risk to begin with?


Aura knows accidents happen and it’s likely risky behavior will persist, even though it’s clear many Americans are aware of the danger they face online. Aura’s all-in-one app ensures you have a safety net, helping people take a proactive approach to their online security to stop threats before they happen.


Learn more about how you can protect yourself online at


Survey Method: The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Aura from Aug. 13-17, 2021 among 2,050 adults ages 18 and older. Results were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. For complete survey methodologies, please contact