Survey: Most Adults Lack Cyber Knowledge, Practices

A significant percentage of surveyed working adults do not grasp or implement basic cybersecurity concepts and practices, according to Proofpoint’s recently released 2018 User Risk Report.

Proofpoint surveyed over 6,000 adults across six countries – the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Australia – and several professions, including the public sector, to gauge respondent’s knowledge of cyberattack concepts, safe use of WiFi and other technologies, and password habits.

The report found that “too many working adults do not have a strong grasp of basic threats, and they too often rely on others to take care of security for them,” further detailing that while 67 and 68 percent of respondents correctly defined phishing and malware, respectively, only 36 percent know what ransomware is. Italy and Germany are least-informed about ransomware, the report continued.

Further, although more than 90 percent of respondents said they have WiFi networks at home, only 56 percent have passwords added to the network, and 66 percent have not changed the default password on their WiFi routers.

“The majority of these technology users have stopped well short of employing important technical safeguards on these networks,” the report states, adding that “of the respondents who have not implemented some (or any) of these security features, 8 percent said it’s because the processes are too time-consuming/inconvenient, and 14 percent said it’s because 14percent said it’s because they don’t know how to implement them.”

Respondents also offered insight on the impacts of cybercrimes. Roughly a third of respondents – 35 percent – said they know someone whose social media account was hacked or duplicated, 15 percent have been a victim of identity them, and 70 percent have been harassed for fraudulent solicitation – mostly over email or phone call.

Although the results found that U.S. tech users were most likely to have virtual private networks (VPNs) installed on multiple devices, U.S. respondents were “far more likely than their global counterparts to use work devices for personal activities and to give friends and family members access to their employers’ devices,” and were more likely than other global counterparts to experience identity theft.

“At 33 percent, the proportion of U.S. respondents who said they’ve experienced identity theft is more than twice the global average, more than three times that of French and German respondents, and more than four times that of Italian respondents,” Proofpoint said.

Proofpoint concluded that the shortfalls in cybersecurity knowledge and practices among respondents calls for organizations educate their employees about basic cyber habits to better protect their data, devices, and systems.

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