April 30, 2014


Only about 1 in 5 U.S. adults said they’d heard “a lot” about the Heartbleed bug from news sources, Pew reports in a new survey. 60 percent of adults said they’d at least heard about the security flaw in a widely used encryption program, one serious enough that many Web entities urged their customers and users to change their passwords.

The story “registered roughly the same level of public awareness as the U.S.-Iran negotiations and agreement to allow monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program (in November and December 2013) and Catholic Bishops in the U.S. protesting Obama Administration policies they believe restricted religious liberty (July 2012),” Pew writes.

The report lists public awareness of some previous news stories by way of comparison:

  • 88% of Americans said they had heard “a lot” about the Newtown, Connecticut shootings in December 2012.
  • 60% of Americans said they had heard “a lot” about Pope Benedict’s announcement he would step down from the papacy in February 2013.
  • 42% of Americans said they had heard “a lot” about Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s of Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate in August 2012.

A slightly higher percentage of Internet users said they’d heard about the bug: 64 percent. Of those, about 40 percent took steps to secure their accounts, like changing their passwords.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
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