Tag Archives: survey

The Stigma of Being a Private Person – The Ad Industry Is Losing The Battle

imageTry as they might – apologists for the Internet’s ad industry push to overwhelm common sense in the creation of a bizarre concept – personal openness – appear to be losing. Despite an invasive and manipulative strategy, which has led to a manic drive to strip consumers of any semblance of privacy, it seems we just aren’t buying it.

Contrary to the claims by pseudo social scientists, supported by far to many tech pundits (who, in the real world, wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground), that personal privacy is dead – that consumers don’t care about personal privacy – uncomfortable facts (uncomfortable for the ad industry, that is), appear to tell a different tale.

Hardly surprising, given that these pundits and social scientists deal in “bought and paid for” points of view. Manipulation and deception – by any other name – propaganda – has lost its luster. It’s been recognized for what it is – bullshit.

We are not as complacent, when it comes to personal privacy, as we have been led to believe. More users than ever, have come to the realization that the price of admission to active interaction with the Internet, should not be the complete stripping of the right to personal privacy. Consumers are advancing the notion that the right to privacy is a “natural right”, and should be recognized as such.

Better yet, consumers are pushing back against privacy predators who continuously boost the “creep factor”. In a just released survey from TRUSTe – one more in a long line of recent surveys which refutes the bought and paid for assertions of the ad industry’s propaganda merchants – it’s clearly apparent that these “lie merchants” are taking it on the chin.

Survey highlights:

94 percent think privacy is an important issue, with 55 percent saying that online privacy is a really important issue they think of often.

69 percent say that they trust themselves most when it comes to protecting their own personal information online (up sharply from 45 percent in 2011).

40 percent say a targeted advertisement has made them feel uncomfortable.

53 percent (52 percent in 2011) believe personally identifiable information is attached to browsing behavior.

Consumers take a variety of precautions to protect their privacy online, such as:

76 percent do not allow companies to share their personal information with a third party (up from 67 percent in 2011).

35 percent say that they have stopped doing business with a company or using their website because of privacy concerns.

90 percent say they use browser controls to protect privacy, including deleting cookies (up from 84 percent in 2011).

40 percent say a targeted advertisement has made them feel uncomfortable.

53 percent (52 percent in 2011) believe personally identifiable information is attached to browsing behavior.

For far too long, the Internet’s ad industry (and, the bad actors who support it), have gotten away with their attempts to stigmatize those of us who believe in the concept of the “private person”  – those of us who have sought a balance between the public and private. I’m hopeful, that we may have reached a stage where consumer action will result in tighter controls being implemented against what has turned out to be, a largely unethical Internet ad industry.

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Filed under Point of View, Privacy

Consumer Statistics Survey – 50% Of Computer Users Lost Data In 2010

imageAccording to a survey conducted online by ConsumerStatistics, between December 1, 2010 and December 4, 2010 – most of us are concerned, to some extent, about the loss of family photos stored on our computers. It seems the “concern”, is more than justified.

Of the 6,149 people in 128 countries who participated in the ConsumerStatistics study, 67 per cent reported having experienced the loss of digital photos, and additional files, through a Hard Drive failure, accidental deletion, a malware attack, theft, or exposure to a natural disaster including fire, flood, and so on. I found it most surprising, that just under 52 percent reported the loss of  irreplaceable data within the last year.

Survey methodology:

Survey conducted online between 12-01-2010 and 12-04-2010.

Survey methods include: Email, focus groups, surveys, social media.

Here’s a sample question from the survey: How often do you backup your home PC?

backup frequency

Survey Highlights:

89.1% of home PC users do not perform regular backups.

67.1% of home PC users have lost pictures and files on their home PC. 51.4.% within the last year.

69.2% of home PC users are most worried about losing their digital pictures.

Survey Summary:

The survey conducted found that people do neglect doing proper backups for their home PCs, and put their valuable data at unnecessary risk.

Over 89% of the respondents do not perform regular backups, and of these people, 76.6% have suffered from data loss. Yet, 91.3% of respondents surveyed believe that backups are important.

As a technologist, the survey stats are not a all surprising – data loss is inevitable; and it happens much more frequently than an average computer user might suspect.

As regular readers of this site are aware, there is a cornucopia of free backup solutions, readily available for download on the Internet, which range from the uncomplicated and easy to use, to the more complex specialty solutions designed for power users.

A good example of a simple backup solution can be found in this article –

Free EASEUS Todo Backup – Easy Backup For The Rest Of Us, posted here January 7, 2010. Additionally, a site search here for “backup solutions”, will return 20+ articles on free desktop and online backup applications.

Failure to mitigate the risks associated with the lack of regular backup, defies common sense. Experience tells me that you will experience data loss. Recovery of that data, while not entirely painless, will be possible – if you have prepared for the inevitable.

The ConsumerStatistics study makes for interesting reading, and I encourage you to read the full results here.

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Filed under Backup Applications, downloads, Free Backup Applications, Freeware, Online Backup, Reports, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

McDonalds “Fillet O’ Phishing” Survey Scam

image Would you fill out an email survey, sponsored by McDonalds – if they paid you 250 dollars for completing it? I’ll go out on a limb here and say – yes you would. Just like most offers that sound overly attractive though – this offer is a scam.

This scam is not only plausible, but in appearance, it could easily pass for the real thing. Jump into this one though, and you’ll stand a good chance of losing your credit card information. So, no 250 dollars; just a real messy credit cleanup to look forward to.

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Filling out the survey form really isn’t the hook – that comes later.

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Clicking on the “proceed” link (this is where you supposedly get the 250 bucks), opens the following screen. All you have to do is provide your credit card details and additional personal information.

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If, at this point, you don’t hear a loud warning bell resonating in your head – you’re about to become a cyber crime victim.

To add credibility (and reduce suspicion), victims of this scam are automatically redirected to the official McDonalds site – once the victim’s credit card details have been scooped by the crooks.

In August of 2010, when I first reported on this scam, which was then being “test marketed” by the cyber crooks in New Zealand and Australia, I made the following point –

The rest of us (non Australian or New Zealanders), shouldn’t be complacent because, for the moment, this scam is appearing only in that part of the world. If this scam works there, and I suspect it will work very well, there’s little doubt it will soon be on it’s way to you’re inbox.

Well, here it is in North America and according to the chat on the Net, this time out, the graphics on the survey and phishing pages are loaded directly from McDonald’s own website. You can rightfully accuse cyber crooks of being the lowest form of pond scum imaginable – but you can’t accuse them of not being technically sophisticated.

It’s the same old, same old, though – the first time I came across this scam was in 2006. This type of scam is recycled repeatedly – because it works. Reasonably intelligent people do get trapped by sophisticated scams. Due, in large part, to their failure to take minimum common sense security precautions. Don’t be one of them.

Advice worth repeating:

If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of any email message, or its attachment, delete it.

Better yet, take a look at the email’s headers. Check the initial “Received from” field in the header, since this field is difficult to forge. Additionally, the mail headers indicate the mail servers involved in transmitting the email – by name and by IP address.

It may take a little practice to realize the benefits in adding this precaution to your SOP, but it’s worth the extra effort if you have any concerns.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, email scams, Malware Reports, Phishing, Windows Tips and Tools

SMB Social Media Risk Index – Panda Security’s Surprising Findings

image The success of the email delivered “Here you have” worm that clogged email systems on Thursday, despite the usual misspelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors, seemed to bewilder many in the security community. Frankly, I’m surprised that the community was surprised.

It seems to me, that any security honcho worth his salt (someone who makes a point of getting out in the field occasionally to observe user behavior), would be more than aware, that despite constant warnings NOT to click on embedded links, the majority of users blithely ignore this critical advice.

The following are a few comments I heard at a meeting over the weekend, during which “here you have”, was a topic of much discussion.

“Social scientists need to sit down with a group of these dumb dicks who clicked on the link in this email, and study their behavior.”

“Most users continually show that they are morons. They can’t follow the most basic instruction – DON’T CLICK ON EMBEDDED LINKS!”

“Users who fell for this, and who caused so much disruption in their organization, should be restricted to a pocket calculator on the job.”

The comments might sound slightly edgy, but when perceived stupidity cost money, “edgy” might be at the lower end of the spectrum. And, there are costs –direct monetary costs that a company will be forced to deal with, following penetration of a company system caused by irresponsible employee behavior.

So, what do you think the costs to an organization might be, where employees fail to follow common sense rules when interacting with the Internet, particularly social networking sites?

Panda Security, which released the results of its 1st Annual Social Media Risk Index today, for small and medium sized businesses, may well have one answer.

In this survey of 315 US small and medium businesses (up to 1,000 employees), which focused on the month of July, 2010, Panda found that more than a third of surveyed  companies which had been infected through employee interaction with social networking sites, reported losses in excess of $5,000.

I was not at all surprised to see that Panda found that Facebook was cited as the top culprit for companies that experienced malware infection (71.6 percent) and privacy violations (73.2 percent).

I was however, surprised to see this – “we were pleased to see that the majority of companies already have formal governance and education programs in place. These types of policies combined with up to date network security solutions are required to minimize risk and ultimately prevent loss.”

A confused observation in my view, given that the facts show – these “education programs”, are NOT working.

Additional survey facts:

Thirty-three percent of SMBs have been infected by malware propagated via social networks; 23 percent cited employee privacy violations on popular social media sites.

Thirty-five percent of SMBs infected by malware from social networks have suffered financial loss.

Facebook takes top spot for social networking-related malware infections, followed by YouTube and Twitter.

You can find the complete survey here. Or, you can view a slideshow on the study’s results here.

About Panda Security;

Founded in 1990, Panda Security is the world’s leading provider of cloud-based security solutions with products available in more than 23 languages and millions of users located in 195 countries around the world.

Panda Security was the first IT security company to harness the power of cloud computing with its Collective Intelligence technology.

For more information, visit Panda US.

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Filed under cybercrime, downloads, FaceBook, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Online Safety, Panda Security, Reports, social networking, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Aussie or Kiwi? – Stay Clear Of This McDonald’s Survey Phishing Scam

image Would you fill out a survey, sponsored by McDonald’s, if they paid you 90 dollars for doing it? I’ll go out on a limb here and say – yes you would.  🙂  Just like most offers that sound overly attractive though – this offer is a scam.

Jump into this one, and you’ll stand a good chance of losing your credit card information. So, no 90 dollars; just a real messy credit cleanup to look forward to.

According to Symantec Hosted Services unit, MessageLabs Intelligence, this scam (so far limited to Australia and New Zealand), is not only plausible, but in appearance, it could easily pass for the real thing.

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Image courtesy of Symantec.

Filling out the survey form really isn’t the hook – that comes later. Clicking on the “proceed” link (this is where you get the 90 bucks), opens the following screen.

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Image courtesy of Symantec.

If, at this point, you don’t hear a loud WTF, resonating in your head – you’re about to become a cyber crime victim.

The rest of us (non Australian or New Zealanders), shouldn’t be complacent because, for the moment, this scam is appearing only in that part of the world. If this scam works there, and I suspect it will work very well, there’s little doubt it will soon be on it’s way to you’re inbox.

For additional information on this scam checkout Nick Johnston’s Blog post over at the Symantec Hosted Services Blog.

About Message Labs Intelligence:

Symantec’s Message Labs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.

About Symantec:

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world.  Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available here.

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Panda Security’s Latest Survey Shows Small Business Fails At Data Security

image I’ve been working on an article for some time, investigation whether small business is up to the task of protecting your personal information; particularly your financial data (credit card, debit card, details), following a consumer transaction.

The background research has revealed a sobering reality – many small and medium sized businesses really suck at protecting their customers’ critical financial information.

So, when I had the opportunity to read Panda Security’s study (released yesterday), of security in SMBs (including 1,500 US SMBs), which showed that a startling percentage of US based SMBs just don’t get the security equation, I was not in the least bit surprised.

Look at these stats from the survey:

The infection ratio at U.S. companies has slightly increased since last year (46 percent in 2010 compared to 44 percent in 2009). It has dropped in Europe (49 percent in 2010 compared to 58 percent in 2009).

Viruses are the most popular threat SMBs are encountering (45 percent), followed by spyware (23 percent).

Thirty-six percent of US SMBs use free consumer security applications.

Unbelievably, 13 percent have no security in place!

Thirty-one percent of businesses are operating without anti-spam

Twenty three percent have no anti-spyware.

Fifteen percent have no firewall.

Participants: The survey consisted of companies with between 2 and 1,000 computers. 1,532 in the United States participated in the survey, and nearly 10,000 in total across the U.S., Europe, Latin America and North America.

The next time you use your credit/debit card at your local Butcher, Baker, or Candlestick Maker, consider carefully the risks involved. It might be prudent to inquire whether the business operates in a twenty first century security environment.

Yes, I know, you might see this as an overreaction – but it’s hardly that. Unless we, as consumers, force the issue, many SMBs will continue to operate with their heads up their in the cloud – unfortunately, not in the security cloud.

I’ll tell you a little secret – I never use my credit, or debit card, when transacting business with a small local merchant. It’s not the small monetary loss that concerns me, since the card issuer sets my liability limit at $50. Instead, it’s the more critical information that can be stolen and used in identity theft.

About Panda Security;

Founded in 1990, Panda Security is the world’s leading provider of cloud-based security solutions with products available in more than 23 languages and millions of users located in 195 countries around the world.

Panda Security was the first IT security company to harness the power of cloud computing with its Collective Intelligence technology.

For more information, visit Panda US.

A PDF version of the full report is available here.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Free Anti-malware Software, Interconnectivity, Malware Advisories, Panda Security, Point of View, Windows Tips and Tools

Does Using FireFox Make You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

I run a number of website tools that provide the type of information that allows me to make available a better experience for readers of this Blog, than I might otherwise be able to provide.

One of these tools makes available information on which web browser readers of this Blog use while visiting. It’s of no strategic value really; but it does provide some interesting statistics nonetheless. I’ve noticed over the course of the last year, or so, that by far the most popular browser used by readers of this Blog is, wait for it, and yes it’s FireFox.

Take a look at the chart below and you’ll notice that in one two hour period, this week, the browser wars went like this:

Browser Stats updated

(Click pic for larger)

So, 47% of visitors to this Blog use FireFox/Mozilla in one flavor or another. You might think that these are isolated or non representative numbers. In fact, these numbers with reasonable small changes up, or down, characterize the daily Browser activity on this Blog.

It struck me, that given the fact that FireFox currently has approximately 21% of the Browser market, then why are approximately 47% of this Blogs readers choosing FireFox?

Is it because they’re smarter, more technically knowledgeable, more security aware, more net savvy than the average IE user, or more familiar with the services/products that the Internet has to offer?

I think all of the above are more than likely true. Well perhaps not smarter. But it would be hard to argue that they’re not more technically savvy: after all this is a tech Blog.

I’d love to know what drives users to FireFox, so if you have a personal observation, let me know. I’d be glad to hear it.

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Filed under Browsers, Firefox, Freeware, Google Chrome, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer, Internet Safety, Safari, Safe Surfing, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools