Your Lack of Security Awareness Hurts You and Me on the Internet

What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? There are many people who actually believe this statement, and that’s fair enough. For those who do believe this old truism, I have news for you.

What you don’t know when it comes to your computer system’s security, and more to the point, Internet security, can hurt you big time. But what really frustrates me is, what you don’t know can hurt me.

We’re talking about a sad reality here – the majority of computer users are undereducated when it comes to recognizing the dangers and threats that the Internet poses to their computers, and to their personal privacy. If your computer is inadequately protected while you surf the Internet you increase the probability that at some point I will be victimized!

The inescapable conclusion is, the more infected computer systems there are that are attached to the Internet, the larger the attack surface is for cyber-criminals to use these infected machines in an attempt to infect my system

We all know that the Internet can provide a rich educational and cultural experience and it can satisfy our nosiness, our inquisitiveness as well as our curiosity. Using the Internet we can snoop, probe, and pry; and question, or confirm, virtually any statement, fact or opinion. But here’s the caveat: don’t let your curiosity override your common sense.

The downside is, each time you connect to the Internet you are wandering through a neighborhood which has a reputation for being jam-packed with predators. These predators are intent on stealing your money, personal information, installing damaging programs on your computer, or misleading you with an online scam.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, since bad news bearers run substantial risks, (just ask Sophocles), but essentially, if you are an unaware computer user you simple don’t know, what you don’t know, when it comes to adequately protecting yourself – and by extension, me – on the Internet.

Earlier this year, a survey prepared by McAfee Inc. declared; while 98 percent of computer users agree that having up-to-date security software is important for system security, a significant number of the survey respondents have computers with security software that is incomplete, or dangerously out of date.

The results of this survey are consistent with my own anecdotal evidence, and I am convinced that this survey does not overstate the case.

Highlights of the McAfee survey:

Ninety-two percent of those surveyed believed their anti-virus software was up to date, but in fact, only 51 percent had updated their anti-virus software within the past week.

Seventy-three percent of those surveyed believed they had a firewall installed and enabled, yet only 64 percent actually did.

Approximately 70 % of PC users believed they had anti-spyware software, but only 55 percent actually had it installed.

25% of survey participants believed they had anti-phishing software, but only 12 percent actually had the software.

Now we have the results of another survey conducted by Steganos, a computer security software developer, which essentially affirms the results and conclusions of the McAfee analysis.

Highlights of the Steganos survey:

No antivirus software: 13 percent of the survey participants were aware they had no antivirus software installed on their computer.

Unsure if antivirus was installed: 9 percent were unsure if antivirus was installed on their computers.

Firewall installation: a surprising 19 percent were unaware if a firewall was installed and operating on their computer.

Privacy protection: a startling 60 percent of participants lacked software to protect their privacy.

Internet Browser security/privacy settings: the majority of those surveyed (52 percent), were unaware of their browser’s security/privacy settings.

Where do you fit in all this?

Computer security, on or off the Internet, but especially while surfing the Internet, has to be a priority; it cannot take a back seat to anything. It needs to be first and foremost in computer users’ minds as they interact with the Internet.

Eugene Kaspersky a highly regarded computer security expert was recently quotes as stating “Internet criminals are now smarter than ever, ultra-organized, and engaged in increasingly complex scams.” Kaspersky went on to say “In such an aggressive and dangerous environment, it’s crucial that users should bolster their online defenses.

So, it may well be that you need to take the time to survey your computer to insure that all relevant security applications have been installed, are up to date, and are operating correctly.

If you need to update or add additional security applications to your computer, then checkout “Free Windows Software You Can’t Afford Not to Have” on this Blog for reviews and free security application downloads.

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4 responses to “Your Lack of Security Awareness Hurts You and Me on the Internet

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