For years, experts have been telling the public to take these things seriously, but oftentimes, their advice and suggestions are ignored. That’s not because people necessarily disagree with the importance of security and privacy, but it’s just that developing new habits can be hard, especially when they’re preventative.
The good news is that those security habits appear to be improving, and we partially have Edward Snowden to thank for that. As reported by Computerworld at the end of last year, an international survey of Internet users revealed that more than 39% have done things to protect their online privacy and security because of what he revealed about the NSA. When you dig deeper into the numbers, that means that somewhere around 700 million people actively made changes to their security habits that they might not have made otherwise. By any standard, that’s a whole lot of people.
This survey primarily focused on reactions to the news about the NSA’s practices, but you don’t have to stop there. When you add the growing list of high-profile data breaches by hackers to the spying activity by governments, then things really start to snowball. More than ever before, people are starting to understand security threats in a very real way, and the resulting changes by 700 million people are only the beginning.
When talking about security issues, it can sometimes be easy to just focus on them in a negative way, but these numbers show us that there can actually be somewhat of a positive side to the story, too. Without the publicity of surveillance and hacking efforts, many Internet users would probably continue to stick with their bad security habits, but now that they see what’s possible, they can better protect themselves from the next big security story that starts to circulate.