Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cybernetic illiteracy

Incredible as it seems, United States has more illiterate citizens, some 16 million, than many other developed countries. For example, almost all adults can write their names on the Social Security card or find the expiration date of their driver's license. But only 20% can understand in a bus stop time when the next one will arrive. This week we want to reveal the data from a survey conducted by Harris Poll to more than 2,000 American adults. With it we realize that "illiteracy" has also reached the cybersecurity sector.

Security breaches are a reality and it´s appreciated that the work of making the information more accessible to the public outside the sector, is bearing fruit. It´s positive to know that more than nine out of 10 Americans have heard news about security attacks in the last 12 months. In fact the vast majority of this percentage says they are concerned about the risks associated with such basic activities as the use of public Wi-Fi points and online purchases.

Considering the attacks we have experienced this year, it´s not surprising that 37% of respondents believe that their personal information is likely to be stolen as a result of a security breach in the next six months. In fact, it seems that many Americans worry that their personal information will be stolen as a result of some of the most common online activities. Public or unknown Wifi zones have become an extra concern and 63% of respondents are concerned that their data will be stolen when they connect to these networks. However, this is not the only concern: almost three out of five are worried about the theft of their personal information when they shop online, half fear for their online banking activities and 35% are worried when they connect with their friends and / or relatives through social networks.

Once exposed these data, it is even more surprising to know that 43% have not changed their online habits. A large part of Americans have not yet taken any critical steps to protect their data. For example, only 25% have implemented two-factor authentication on their devices to protect their personal information in the last 12 months, and that is why security experts and the main online services and technology companies such as Facebook and Google encourage it. 

Following the bad news, only 56% of Americans use a password to block their computer, and only 45% use a PIN to block their mobile devices. Despite being integrated into the most recent versions of the most popular mobile devices in the US, the use of biometrics is still not widespread, with only 19% of Americans reporting that they have implemented it in their devices in the last 12 years. 

Although the update to solve vulnerabilities and patch possible weak points is a simple method to implement in the routine of many users, most don´t update their applications in a timely manner, with 14% of smartphone users waiting for more than a week to update the applications on their smartphones (or never do it) after receiving a notice. Also, the study adds that 13% of computer users wait more than a week.

However, despite the fact that much of this data does not offer much hope, more than two in three Americans said they have avoided opening email attachments in the last 12 months. Roughly half of Americans say they have complicated passwords on their account in the same time period, and 15% have used a password management tool.

When talking about cyberattacks is not appropriate to consider it an individual problem that affects the attacked user, it should be seen as an existential threat to our economy and to our own social fabric, so protecting ourselves is, therefore, a shared responsibility This study suggests an alarming lack of understanding about the importance of recent violations and the risks they pose to the average American. This "cybernetic illiteracy" is something that must be avoided, and training is the necessary method.


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