Let’s talk about the “E” word.
Encryption — it makes the modern world go round. Every time you shop on the Web, submit an online application for an apartment or log into your bank account online, chances are encryption is a part of the transaction (at least you should hope it is).
While we — and everyone from the Director of the NSA to Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg— are advocates of the technology and understand its intrinsic value, there are some that harbor a negative opinion of it. With this duality broadcast almost daily in the media, we felt it was worth asking: What do people in the U.S. really think of encryption?
We set out on a quest to find out.
In a recent study, we polled more than 500 people in the U.S. on their views of encryption and their experiences interacting with encryption in their everyday lives. Let’s take a look at what the respondents had to say.
Encryption isn’t the dreaded word some make it out to be. Going into this study, we expected the word encryption to elicit many different responses, including the potential for an association with terrorism or criminality. Thankfully, when asked what word they most associate with encryption, a reassuring 96 percent of respondents chose something positive with 72 percent selecting "security" and 24 percent opting for "privacy", while only 4 percent opted for the word "threat".
Protecting sensitive information is the key. If we’ve learned anything from recent years, it’s that anyone can fall victim to a data breach. There’s no surprise that 95 percent of respondents believe their sensitive information should be encrypted, thereby safeguarded, online. We in the U.S. value our privacy and understand the importance of data security to safeguard it. (And if encryption helps us accomplish that, then we’re on board.)
Media coverage is a big influencer. With this ongoing, highly publicized encryption debate — also referred to as the crypto wars — playing out on the nightly news and presidential debates, we weren’t shocked to see that a majority of the respondents (42 percent) selected media coverage as the main factor that influenced their views on encryption.
Encryption isn’t (knowingly) used by everyone. According to our findings, 43 percent of respondents stated they have never used encryption, while 25 percent weren’t sure if they had. So is it possible to use encryption without actually knowing it? In reality, we use encryption technologies on a daily basis, and while most of us probably don’t understand the ins and outs behind it, it’s there protecting our private data.
The fact of the matter is that encryption helps safeguard the information of millions of consumers, and the survey suggestions the majority of people in the U.S. understand that. If we all continue to take the time to learn about encryption, its technology and how it affects our everyday lives, we can each play an important role in protecting our private information.
To ensure your organization’s sensitive information is protected, check out our email encryption resources here.