A pair of surveys focusing on end-users found some worrying patterns and misconceptions about Internet safety and poor security practices.
When it comes to enterprise
security, user misconceptions of safe online behavior may be the weakest link,
according to two recent research studies.
Users are in the dark about
the "reality" of malware threats, according to
G Data Software's global survey released June 24. The massive survey
included responses from nearly 16,000 users worldwide, of which more than 5,500
were based in the United States.
More than 40 percent of the
respondents from the U.S. said it was more dangerous to go to adult content
sites than to hobby sites such as horseback riding, the survey found. In
actuality, hobby sites are "usually easier" to attack and pose a
"greater infection risk" than adult sites because visitors aren't
expecting any danger, according to G Data.
"The level of awareness
among Internet users is still inadequate and out-of-date in many
respects," the researchers wrote in the report.
Nearly all the U.S.-based respondents
said they would be able to recognize when their computer has been infected
because their machines would crash, slow down or display pop-up windows, the
survey found. These users don't realize that modern malware is usually stealthy
and can exist on the computer for long periods to "surreptitiously"
steal information without sounding any alarms, the researchers wrote in the
"The aim of online
criminals is to earn as much money as they can, which means that they want to
keep infections hidden from users for as long as possible," the
More than half the
U.S.-based respondents regularly click on social networks, the survey found,
with about 19 percent clicking on links, regardless of where they come from,
the survey found. Those users are "easy targets" for cyber-criminals,
according to researchers.
At least users are employing
some form of security software on their computers, the survey found. Nearly 88
percent of respondents from the U.S. reported using security software, with
about half relying on free versions. About 82 percent believed that free
software was just as good as paid, the survey found. The United Kingdom had the
highest number of users running security software, at 94 percent, and Russia
had the lowest, at 83 percent.
separate study by GFI Software found that users are not protecting themselves
when they are on the Internet at home, and their carelessness has implications
on enterprise security. In a survey of 1,070 adults and their teenage children,
65 percent of parents said at least one of their home computers has been
infected by malware. Of these, 62 percent of them have been either
"somewhat" or "very" serious problems, and 55 percent have
been infected more than once, the report found.
Nearly three-quarters of the
parents in the survey were working parents and were questioned about their
online practices as it related to work. Of the parents who have been issued
work computers at home, 90 percent said they've used them for non-work-related
purposes and about a third let other members of the family, including their teens,
use them for personal use.
"surprising" that parents were engaged in "highly insecure
computing practices like letting their children use their work computers,"
said Alex Eckelberry, general manager of GFI Software's security business unit.
Similar to the G Data
survey, most users appear to have some kind of antivirus software. However,
there's a big difference between having it and actually using it correctly, as only
28 percent of the parents in the GFI research reported updating their
definition files daily. An eye-popping 24 percent was unsure if they were updating
the definitions at all.
"Home Internet use is a
source of significant risk, not only to families, but also to employers,"