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Cyber hygiene still lacking

Consumers still fail to practice basic security cyber hygiene, according to an online survey by Harris Poll, on behalf of the cyber security product company Tenable. While nearly all respondents (94pc) were aware of recent data breaches, few have taken critical steps to protect their data or changed their online habits. The study found 44pc of those questioned did not use a password to protect their computers with 55pc failing to add a PIN to protect their mobile devices. When it comes to the industry recommended practice of two-factor authentication, three-quarters (75pc) said they’d not implemented this feature to protect their personal information. Just 32pc of respondents said the affect of recent security breach news stories meant they’d reduced their use of public Wi-Fi or unknown hotspots. There were some positives as over half surveyed (53pc) confirmed that they had made their account passwords more complicated, with 15pc opting to use a password management tool.

Jennifer Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of Tenable said: “Given the recent slew of data breaches you’d expect consumers to be more aware of security incidents and potentially to have changed their habits. However, this study found quite the reverse. While nearly all the respondents were aware of recent breaches, almost half (43pc) confessed they’d not changed their online habits as a result. Another surprising figure was that only 19pc said they’d utilised biometric security options on their devices in the past 12 months, which is unexpected given Apple introduced the use of a thumbprint as a security measure in 2013. This all indicates that many consumers still fail to comprehend the role they play in accountability when it comes to taking specific actions to safeguard their own personal data. It’s basic cyber security illiteracy.”

Looking at those who were aware of recent security breaches, just 12 percent said that they believed that their personal information had been stolen by hackers in the past 12 months. Given the Equifax breach alone exposed the sensitive data of as many as 143 million Americans, that number is statistically impossible, the IT firm points out. Add the Yahoo! breach and countless others, the results of this study suggest a lack of understanding about the pervasiveness of recent breaches and the risks the firm comments. In fact, 37pc think it’s likely their personal information will be stolen as a result of a security breach in the next six months.

As for where perceived risks lie, 63pc said they were worried that their data may be stolen when connecting to public or unknown Wi-Fi hotspots, with 58pc worried that their personal information may be stolen when online shopping, while half are worried when banking online, with only 35pc concerned when connecting with their friends/family through social media. A way for hackers to compromise devices and steal data is when apps have security vulnerabilities, yet few people patch promptly. Fourteen percent of smartphone users wait more than a week to update apps on their smartphone after receiving a prompt, with 4pc confessing they may never get round to it. Meanwhile, 13pc of computer users wait more than a week to update the apps on their computer, with 3pc who wait longer than a month after receiving a prompt, and 5 percent who never update apps on their computer.

Jennifer Johnson adds: “The irony is that cyber poses an existential threat to our economy and to our very social fabric and safeguarding ourselves is therefore a shared responsibility. Enterprises must lead the way by practicing fundamental hygiene and enforcing a basic standard of care for their customers’ data; but individuals must do their part, too – both as consumers and in many cases, as employees of those same enterprises – and that starts with cyber literacy.”


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