Pew research center report highlights general ignorance over cyber security

April 2, 2017 |

The Pew Research Center produces excellent non partisan reports on primarily but not always views, attitudes and understanding of many subjects falling under the rubric of social science.  In my view the findings of Pew have a universal application across most developed countries. On cyber security the findings ring true to my experience with Australian knowledge of cyber security, poor in general and, in certain groups,  lousy.  The full report is found here.

In a survey of 13 questions Pew found that:

  • the typical (respondent answered only five of these 13 knowledge questions correctly (with a mean of 5.5 correct answers).
  • 20% answered more than eight questions accurately,
  • 1% received a “perfect score” by correctly answering all 13 questions.
  • 75% of online adults can correctly identify the strongest password from a list of four options.
  • 73% are aware that if a public Wi-Fi network is password protected, it does not necessarily mean that it is safe to perform sensitive tasks, such as online banking, using that network
  • 54% of internet users are able to identify examples of phishing attacks.
  • 52% correctly say that turning off the GPS function of a smartphone does not prevent all tracking of that device.
  • 46% of internet users are able to correctly identify that the statement “all email is encrypted by default” is false.
  • 45% correctly identify the statement “all Wi-Fi traffic is encrypted by default on all wireless routers” is false.
  • 39% of internet users are aware that internet service providers are able to see the sites their customers are visiting while utilizing the “private browsing” mode on their internet browsers.
  • 33% are aware that the letter “s” in a URL beginning with “https://” indicates that the traffic on that site is encrypted
  • 16% of online adults are aware that a group of computers that is networked together and used by hackers to steal data is referred to as a “botnet.”
  • 13% are aware that the risks of using insecure Wi-Fi networks can be minimized by using a virtual private network, or VPN
  • 17% online adults indicate they are not sure how to identify the most secure password from a list
  • 18% know how to identify multi-factor identification
  • 20% know whether public Wi-Fi is safe for sensitive activities
  • 70% are not sure what purpose a VPN serves
  • 73% don’t know what a botnet does
  • 18- to 29-year-olds correctly answered a mean of 6.0 out of 13 questions, compared with a mean of 5.0 among those 65 and older

The report is covered here, here and here.

One Response to “Pew research center report highlights general ignorance over cyber security”

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