Nearly Two-Thirds of U.S. Adults with Social Media Accounts Say They Have Been Hacked, According to University of Phoenix Survey

Nearly 9 in 10 also limit personal information shared on social media
due to fear of being hacked

PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Only 10 percent of internet-using adults in America used at least one
social networking site in 20051. More than a decade later
that number has grown exponentially, with 84 percent of U.S. adults
claiming to have at least one social media account, according to a
recent survey by University of Phoenix conducted online by Harris Poll
in February 2016 among 2,088 U.S. adults 18 years or older. As the
prominence of social media has grown, so too has the number of criminals
preying on those who use it.

Nearly two in three U.S. adults who have personal social media profiles
say they are aware that their accounts have been hacked and 86 percent
agree they limit the personal information they post due to the fear of
it being accessed by hackers. Despite efforts to protect personal
information, cybercriminals still often outwit the consumer. In fact, in
2014, 70 percent of social media scams were manually shared2,
meaning people voluntarily and unwittingly shared posts that linked to
malicious or affiliate sites, up from just two percent in 20133.

“Social media sites can lead users to believe their information and data
are secure through a few self-selected security settings. But today’s
cyber security criminals can often get around basic passwords and
uncover personal information,” said Dan Konzen, college chair for the
College of Information Systems and Technology at University of Phoenix,
Phoenix Main Campus. “The best way to protect yourself is knowing what
information is available online and how to reduce access.”

U.S. adults take steps to enhance online security

Despite the high number of threats to Americans’ online identities
through their social media profiles, here’s some good news: more than
half (58 percent) of U.S. adults believe their data on these platforms
is somewhat or very secure. Nearly 9 in 10 (86 percent) say they check
their security settings, with 58 percent checking them at least once a

Eighty-six percent of U.S. adults also took precautionary measures to
make their accounts more secure once they were aware of being hacked.
The majority of people changed their passwords (61 percent) followed by
changing or updating their security settings (57 percent), removing
personal information (33 percent) and deleting their account all
together (11 percent).

“Cybercriminals are incredibly inventive in finding ways to obtain
victims’ personal information, which makes it important to educate
people on how to combat criminals,” said Dennis Bonilla, executive dean
for the College of Information Systems and Technology at University of
Phoenix. “With cybercriminal savvy on the rise, it’s important that
University of Phoenix not only provides consumers with the know-how to
safely and smartly use social media, but that we prepare, educate and
train a future workforce to address these issues.”

University of Phoenix® College of Information Systems and Technology
offers associates, bachelor and master’s degree, as well as
certificates, in cybersecurity through the newly created Cybersecurity
and Security Operations Institute. According to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, cyber security jobs are expected to grow 37 percent between
2012 and 2022. University of Phoenix cyber security degree programs
educate students in cryptography, enterprise security and systems audit,
which enable students to pursue careers after graduation.

For more information about each of these programs, including on-time
completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the
program and other important information, please visit:

1 Pew
Research Center: Social Media Usage: 2005-2015

2 Symantec:
Internet Security Threat Report, April 2015, page 12

Internet Security Threat Report, April 2015, page 12

Tips to avoid being hacked

To maximize the benefits of social media as a tool to connect with
family and friends, news and entertainment, business and shopping and
more, while ensuring the safety of personal information, Konzen offers
the following tips to stay safe on social media:

  1. Remember that nothing you post online can be completely deleted.
    Just because you delete a photo or status doesn’t mean it still can’t
    be found. If it isn’t something you want public, don’t post it online.
  2. Protect your social media passwords. Hackers can easily access
    accounts with simple passwords, like pet names or birthdays. To
    protect passwords, use sites like
    and make sure passwords utilize letters, numbers and characters.
  3. Use anonymity networks like Tor (The Onion Router) or virtual
    private network (VPN) on public Wi-Fi.
    Public hotspots often
    aren’t as secure as we believe. Social media sites don’t have secure
    logins, so passwords and info can be stolen. Only use secure networks
    or use Tor or VPN, which enhance online privacy and security, if you
    have to use public Wi-Fi.
  4. Limit the personal information you post on social media.
    Posting too much personal information can make you an easy target for
    hackers. Search for yourself online and see what information is
    available to everyone – you may be surprised.
  5. Only connect with people you know. Having hundreds of social
    media “friends” sounds great in practice, but you could be connecting
    with hackers who only want to steal your information. Only
    follow/friend or accept requests from people you know.


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll
on behalf of Apollo Education Group between February 5 and 9, 2016,
among 2,088 U.S. adults 18 years or older, 1,731 who report having at
least one social media account. For complete survey methodology,
including weighting variables, please contact Jennifer Marshall at

About the College of Information Systems and Technology

University of Phoenix® College of Information Systems and Technology is
a leader and advocate for the development and advancement of IT in
global business operations. The College offers associate, bachelor’s,
master’s and doctoral degree programs. Its Faculty Advisory Council,
composed of experts and leaders in the field, ensures curriculum is on
pace with national and international market demands. Providing
innovative digital learning tools developed to suit all learning styles,
the College focuses on building technical knowledge and its successful
application to real-world business environments. For more information,

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults
move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world.
Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive
learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal
aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo
Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL),
University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering
associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from
campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online
throughout the world. For more information, visit


University of Phoenix
Jennifer Marshall, 847-476-2734