18 per cent of US Internet users had data stolen: survey

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Some 18 per cent of US Internet users have had important personal data such as bank account information stolen and the problem appears to be getting worse, a survey showed Monday.

The Pew Research Centre study carried out in January showed a sharp increase from mid-2013, when 11 per cent reported being victimised.

The survey also found 21 per cent reported having email or social network accounts compromised, the same percentage as last year.

The findings come amid growing concern over the "Heartbleed" vulnerability discovered earlier this month, and months after US retail giant Target acknowledged millions of customers may have had payment cards compromised.

"As online Americans have become ever more engaged with online life, their concerns about the amount of personal information available about them online have shifted as well," the Pew researchers wrote.

"Internet users have become more worried about the amount of personal information available about them online - 50 per cent reported this concern in January 2014, up from 33 per cent in 2009."

The report is based on a survey of 1,002 adults from January 23 to 26, including 820 Internet users. The margin of sampling error for the Internet users is estimated at four percentage points.