Survey: consumers don't understand online security
Called the McAfee/NCSA Online Safety Study, the report opens with “Think Your Home Computer Is Safe? Think Again”.
The report shows that people believe the security of their computer and Internet connection is important, but that people aren’t doing anywhere near enough to ensure that they continue to stay protected, by ensuring automatic updates occur for the OS, installed software and the relevant security programs, that updates are paid for each year to be running the very latest version, and by investigating new security programs that appear on the market and using them in addition to everything else if warranted.
The full results are included in the link above, and the report itself makes for very interesting reading, but there is some standout info that must be shared.
The report starts out by saying that 87% of survey respondents believed they had anti-virus software, 73% believed they had a firewall and 70% thought they had anti-spyware software.
When the survery respondents had their computers scanned by the NCSA, the results indicated that 94% had anti-virus, only 55% had antispyware and 81% had a firewall - but only 64% had their firewall enabled!
Even worse - only 51% of anti-virus owners had their software totally up-to-date - the rest had outdated 'antivirus definitions' and other updates by month or more, resulting in very little real protection against the latest threats.
The report says that "less than one in four Americans are fully proteted against viruses and malware".
And that’s where spyware, viruses, phishing and even pop-ups are still tripping people up. Awareness of phishing attacks or spyware is high but knowing how to protect themselves, remove infections or detect phishing attacks as they occur is low.
The report shows that people believe they are using computers infected with viruses or spyware but continue using them anyway – even for things such as online banking or shopping – and of course there are clearly plenty who are doing these activities and more on computers their owners don’t know are compromised!
Clearly, McAfee would be hoping that some of the people reading this report will either update their existing McAfee software electronically to the latest version or rush out to buy it in stores, but whatever the choice today’s tech-savvy – and not so tech-savvy consumers will end up making over which Internet security solutions to buy and/or download, the report is correct in saying that “most Americans are in dire need of a reality check”, although naturally we’d expand that to computer users worldwide.
So, what should consumers be doing to stay secure, especially from spyware, phishing, malware and identity theft? What paid and free programs are available? Please read onto page 2 to find out!
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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.