With the new way of living, Australians are now considering online safety a top priority. People are becoming more concerned about their security – to the point of preferring to give up on some conveniences of the digital life to keep their safety, a recent study by McAfee has shown.

On the back of the study findings, McAfee has identified seven trends to watch in 2022:

  1. While life online is loaded with conveniences, they’re not enough

Security, and the feeling people get from it, appears to have an intrinsic value. In a series of “either, or” questions, consumers repeatedly chose protection over convenience. For example, when asked to choose between connecting with others from anywhere to always being fully protected, the response was heavily in favour of strong protection (55%) over ease of connection (18%).

2. Consumers want a protected connection, even if it costs them

Security appears to have a distinct financial value as well. When asked to choose between cost savings and their security, consumers still favoured protection, overwhelmingly so 54% of respondents said they would pay an extra 10% for a secure purchase—whereas only 13% said they would risk leaking contact information for a purchase at a lower price.

Beyond expressing a stated preference for security in their online shopping, consumers will additionally pay for apps and services that protect them. More than four in 10 (42%) consumers said they addressed their security and privacy risks by using new tools on their devices—such as a VPN, antivirus apps, firewalls, or credit monitoring services.

3. Gamers will pass on so-called “free” videogames

Privacy remains a major issue, with 37% of respondents saying they feel the risks to their online privacy have increased. Gamers who were surveyed share this feeling as well, particularly in a landscape where many “free” games actually capture and possible resell personal information to third parties.

When made aware of potential privacy issues, most gamers in our survey said they will protect themselves. The survey asked if they would “try the newest online game by sharing your personal information” or “don’t share your info” and not play the game. Only 14% were willing to share their personal info, while the clear majority of 60% said they were not willing to trade their privacy for a game.

4. AI monitoring of healthcare? Not so fast.

Consumers embraced online healthcare services (doctor, hospital, treatments, etc.) out of a mix of convenience (34%) and Covid-related necessity (58%) and will continue to do so—within limits.

In the survey, 38% of consumers said that they created new accounts and logins by way of online healthcare services. However, when asked if they would trust the monitoring of their healthcare to AI or simply stick with healthcare data that’s shared privately and securely, only 9% were willing to try AI whereas a full 68% simply wanted their info kept private and secure.

5. Cryptocurrency fraud sours consumer taste for fintech

More than one-third (37%) of those surveyed feel that their personal and financial information is particularly at risk. Yet this feeling of risk will increase as consumers increasingly participate in the burgeoning fintech market and face a new wave of attacks that target their virtual assets and cryptocurrencies.

Bogus cryptocurrencies will crop up, and consumers who make new investments in established cryptocurrencies and NFTs will find their crypto accounts prone to attack by cybercriminals looking to capitalise on this trend.

And the popularity of fintech is most certainly exploding with 54% of respondents stated that they created new accounts or logins associated with cryptocurrencies and virtual assets.

6. Vax cards are the new credit cards

The need for digital vaccine passports will continue, and consumers will want to ensure that their identity is protected. Almost one third of respondents (31%) said that they expect increases in tracking vaccine status and storing proof of vaccination in 2022. However, they also expressed concerns that Covid-related online activities could potentially lead to data privacy issues or possible identity theft.

The survey further found 59% of respondents said they would prefer the convenience of a digital vaccine passport, while only 28% said they preferred a paper copy.

7. Online learning will increasingly take root with consumers

Consumers are showing more willingness to learn online and seek out online educational options, at least in certain cases. While Covid-related concerns remain a driver for this increase (49%), a significant number of respondents cited job and schooling requirements as a reason to seek out these services online (55%).