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Even in our post-PRISM times, we're more scared of being hacked than tracked

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What’s scarier — hacking or tracking?

Well, in a survey commissioned by the Computer and Communications Industry Association, respondents said hackers stealing their personal information was more of a concern than business and government tracking combined.

That’s right. Orwellian government spying and Amazon.com knowing you’ve been shopping for spandex shorts is less freaky than identity theives.

75 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed in November said they worried about hackers, while 54 percent expressed concerns about their browsing history being tracked by advertisers. When forced to choose what was scarier, respondents almost unanimously said hacking.

As further evidence of their indifference to targeted advertising, almost twice as many people (61 percent) said they’d rather have free Internet service with targeted advertising than paid service with no advertising (33 percent).

They also showed surprisingly little concern with government tracking, despite National Security Administration scandal being in the news. A paltry 15 percent said the government accessing their information was their top privacy and security concern.

In fact, 74 percent said that the government should be more involved in policing identity theft.

Perhaps the hacking concerns comes from personal experience. Half of the people who responded to the survey said they or someone they know had their email or their financial accounts breached online.

The survey found handwringing about hacking has motivated greater vigilance among the respondents. Three in four people said they used different passwords for different services and just slightly fewer (68 percent) said they adjusted privacy settings for their online accounts to make them more secure.

“By wide margins this survey clearly shows that ID theft has touched the majority of consumers in some way, and that hacking is more worrisome to consumers than tracking, and that voters want the government to more aggressively go after cyber criminals,” said Ed Black, the president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association. “Safeguarding users online must become a higher priority for companies and also for the regulators and policymakers charged with protecting consumers.”

H/T All Things D | Photo by Bryan Rosengrant/Flickr