Plugged-in Canadians are still not doing enough to protect their privacy online but younger generations are leading the pack in ensuring their own digital security, a new study suggests.

The telephone survey commissioned by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada found that 74 per cent of the respondents own at least one communication device, such as a cellphone, smartphone or tablet.

The results of the report, which surveyed 2,000 Canadian adults in late February and early March by Harris/Decima, were released Thursday.

However, only four in 10 use password locks for those devices or adjust the settings to limit sharing of personal information.

Meanwhile, the survey found that younger Canadians, between the ages of 18 and 34, are most likely to guard their privacy while being the most enthusiastic adopters of new technology.

"Young people are sometimes stereotyped as digital exhibitionists who are quite uninhibited in posting comments and personal images," Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said in a statement issued Thursday.

"And yet, this new data shows that they not only care about privacy, they are actually leaders in protecting it."

The survey also found that just over half of respondents use social networking sites and four in five said they take advantage of privacy settings on these sites.

Also, 45 per cent who use social networking sites acknowledged that they are concerned of risks to their privacy.

Stoddart said that Canadians are recognizing that their personal information is not safe in the digital environment unless they take steps to protect it.

"Unfortunately, however, too few are taking even the most basic precautions, such as setting passwords on their mobile devices," she said.

She said Canadians should use passwords, encryption, privacy setting and other safety measures to safeguard their personal information.

Other survey highlights:

• Six in 10 respondents felt that their personal information is under weaker protection than 10 years ago.

• Ninety per cent found businesses requesting too much personal information disturbing.

• Eighty-three per cent said that Internet companies should ask their customers for permission to track their online behaviour and usage.

• More than eight in 10 opposed giving police and intelligence agencies the power to access e-mail records and other Internet usage data without a warrant.

The same survey conducted two years ago found that 26 per cent felt that computers and the Internet posed a risk to privacy. This year, 40 per cent felt the same way.