As the Heartbleed bug continues to create a sense of insecurity and uncertainty over personal data being stolen, new research suggests that 20 percent of Americans say they have been a victim of such theft. A study published by the Pew Research Center shows that more and more Americans believe they have had their personal data, including financial information, stolen.
The information taken includes Social Security Numbers, credit card information as well as bank account details, highlighting the growing struggle that many are facing on a daily basis when putting in private details online.
It also comes on the heels of the Target debacle, which saw tens of millions of customers at the large retail company have their debit and credit card information stolen. Many have reported the criminals attempting to use their details in order to purchase products.
The Internet is facing a privacy controversy unlike anything ever before witnessed, and the Pew Center's research shows that Americans - nearly doubled from a July 2013 study - are reporting personal information to have been stolen.
Over one in five American adults told the researchers that they have had their email and social networking account information - such as Facebook and Twitter passwords - "compromised" without their permission. It is a worrying trend that companies must begin to address in order to make online purchasing and the information asked more secure.
That's not good news for Americans, after researchers suggest that around two-thirds of all websites online have been infected by the Heartbleed Bug, although it is unclear if hackers are using the information they have garnered.
"The consequences of these flaws and breaches may add insult to injury for those who have already experienced some kind of personal information theft. And research suggests that young adults and younger baby boomers may have been especially hard hit in the second half of 2013," reads the report from the Pew Research Center.
For now, as Americans and other global citizens come to terms with online personal information potentially being taken, the question that online companies are being forced to answer is how they are going to ensure that users' private information and bank accounts are not compromised and cannot be used by third parties.