You'd likely give up sex for cybersecurity, poll finds

How badly do you want to be safe from hackers? Really badly, according to a new survey.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
3 min read
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Some of these folks apparently would give up sex for a year if it meant never being hacked again.

Patrick Lux, Getty Images

Could you become, as Jerry Seinfeld put it, "master of your domain" to save your web domains?

In a classic "Seinfeld" episode, Jerry and his friends each bet a hundred bucks in a celibacy challenge. Let's just say it didn't take long before the cash started rolling in. But could you hold out longer -- if the stakes were exponentially higher?

Nearly four in 10 Americans say they would give up sex for one year in exchange for a lifetime of cybersecurity, according to an online survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted by Harris Poll for password-management company Dashlane. The poll checked in with adults over 18 in late October. Dashlane released the results Thursday.

As it turns out, for 39 percent of Americans, that basic human desire appears less important than the allure of a hack-free existence.

Technology has tweaked interest in sex before. Binge watching via streaming media reportedly leads to a decline in the frequency of sex -- despite the "Netflix and chill" pickup lines -- while driverless cars apparently have the potential of leading to more intercourse.

But massive hacks may be scaring the hell out of people -- so much that they'd willingly give up sex for a full year. At least hypothetically. And apparently, it would be easier to give up sex than to act more responsibly online.

Despite the constant barrage of breaches, people "continue to engage in risky...behavior" online, including the use of weak passwords, Dashlane CEO Emmanuel Schalit said in a statement.

The problem is much bigger than an individual's choice of passwords, though. Data security continues to be one of the most alarming and seemingly unsolvable problems created by the internet.

The latest massive breach was exposed Sunday. About 412 million accounts from Adult Friend Finder -- a company describing itself as the "world's largest sex and swinger community" -- were hacked. Earlier this fall, Yahoo revealed that half a billion customer accounts were breached. And last month, legions of hacked Internet of Things devices were behind a massive DDoS attack that took temporarily took down popular websites. A-lister celebrities and even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have felt the wrath of hackers.

The survey did find a gender divide: 34 percent of men said they'd sacrifice a year of sex for a lifetime of safe web experience, compared with 44 percent of women.

And it's not just middle aged or elderly who would cut off sex. Millennials, the generation that grew up online, have apparently been spooked by hackers. Two of every five millennials -- who have taken over baby boomers as the largest generation in the US -- said they would abstain from intercourse for a year in exchange for cybersecurity for the rest of their lives.

Since the sex-versus-security choice is only hypothetical, Dashlane recommends more-secure passwords and suggests leaving birthday and anniversary dates out of them. Also, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. (That's how Zuckerberg's Twitter account got hacked.)

A CNET guide suggests passwords that are more than 16 characters long, with a combination of numbers, symbols, cases and spaces. Two-step verification also helps.

It beats giving up sex for a year.