Most Americans Unsure of Computer Security

Ask anyone and they'll easily be able to tell you whether they lock their doors or if they've installed a home alarm system. Ask them how well their computer is locked down, and they may be a little uncertain -- if not altogether clueless.

The Cyber Security Industry Alliance, in conjunction with security software vendor McAfee, just released a survey on Americans' attitudes and knowledge of how their own systems are secured. The results would be amusing if it weren't such a serious situation.

Most of the survey respondents indicated that they do indeed have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on their computers: 87 percent said they had anti-virus software, 70 percent said they had anti-spyware software and 73 percent said they had a firewall.

But when the survey staff ran voluntary remote scans of the survey respondents' systems, they found a vastly different story. Turns out that 94 percent of the survey respondents had actually installed anti-virus software; however, only half had updated it within the last month. In the rapidly changing landscape of viruses, that's almost as bad as not using anything at all.

When it came to anti-spyware software, 70 percent did have it installed, just as the survey revealed, but only 55 percent had it enabled. The same was true of firewalls -- 81 percent had one, but only 64 percent had it enabled. Folks, it can't help you if you don't turn it on.

While virus attacks and other tales of Web-borne nastiness pervade the news, it seems like we have a ways to go before the general public is appropriately educated. How well are your systems locked down? Check in with me at llow@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Lafe Low on 10/03/2007 at 1:23 PM


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