The recent discovery of the Heartbleed bug brought into focus the cybersecurity threats that all consumers face. Due to the popularity of the affected encryption program, OpenSSL, as many as two-thirds of all websites may have been impacted by this security flaw, according to The Economist.
Yet Heartbleed is just one cybersecurity threat among many. Consumers face digital danger from many different directions, and software developers must appreciate the extent of these risks if they are to produce applications that can adequately protect users.
Highlighting the degree of cybersecurity dangers present today, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that the number of U.S. adults who have experienced at least one data breach is growing rapidly.
An evolving threat
The study revealed that 18 percent of online adults have had important personal information stolen in a data breach. This includes Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account information. This figure is particularly distressing because a similar Pew survey conducted in July of last year found that only 11 percent of respondents had experienced such a data breach. In half a year, the percentage of online adults to experience serious data breaches nearly doubled.
Furthermore, Pew found that 21 percent of adults who use the Internet have had either a social media or email account compromised. This percentage was unchanged from the previous survey.
Data breaches such as these have the potential to cause major problems for those affected. Most notably, victims whose Social Security numbers are stolen become particularly vulnerable to identity theft and fraud, Forbes explained.
The Pew study also found that Americans are becoming more concerned about their personal information on the Internet. Half of all participants in this recent survey shared this worry, whereas only one-third of survey respondents felt this way in 2009.
This suggests that consumers are becoming increasingly wary of purchasing and utilizing apps from companies that they do not trust to keep their information safe. If a firm experiences a data breach, its reputation will take a significant hit and it will struggle to attract new customers, as well as retain existing ones.
That is why developers should utilize tools such as static analysis solutions to increase the cybersecurity of their code. Only by making data security a priority can developers produce apps and programs that protect their users from the growing and evolving threats posed by cyberattackers.