Your lack of Internet security awareness hurts both you, and me.
Arguably, there are people who actually believe this nonsense statement, and that’s fair enough. For those who do believe this old truism, I have news for you. Bad news.
It’s simply this – 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.
Fact: 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.
Fact: If your computer is inadequately protected while you surf the Internet, you increase the probability that at some point, I will be victimized!
Fact: The more infected computer systems 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.
While the results of a survey completed by security provider McAfee Inc, are slightly dated, nevertheless the results continue to be consistent with my personal anecdotal evidence.
The fact remains – a significant number of computer users lack adequate security knowledge, operate computers with security software that is incomplete, or dangerously out of date.
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.
60% lacked software to protect their privacy.
52% 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. It needs to be first and foremost in computer users’ minds as they interact with the Internet.
Governments worldwide, now seem to be addressing this issue, since the potential for mass disruption of critical services, which by extension would/could have severe consequences on national security, are potentially impacted by unsafe practices, or inadequate security, at the home computer level.
Richard Harknett and James Stever, both political science professors at the University of Cincinnati, recently wrote in the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management –
“The general population must be engaged as active security providers, not simply beneficiaries of security policy, because their practices often create the threats to which government responds.”
I’m not in the business of forecasting the future – I deal with present day realities, but I’ll say this – unless there are substantial voluntary changes in personal computing behavior, governments will be forced to enact rules governing that behavior. They’ll have no choice.
In the meantime, 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.
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