More than half of computer users who think they are protected against online threats like spyware, viruses and hackers actually have inadequate or no online protection, according to an independent research study conducted for Verizon. Verizon’s study, conducted with 545 U.S. Internet subscribers by the independent Internet research firm iTracks, contrasted participants’ opinions about their level of online security against results of Verizon Security Advisor scans performed on their computers.
While 92 percent of participants thought they were safe, the scans revealed that 59 percent were actually vulnerable to a variety of online dangers. Ninety-four percent of those surveyed said they would find it helpful to be able to diagnose or check their online security status on a regular basis to make sure their PCs were safe.
The study’s comparison between the real risk, as determined by the Verizon Security Advisor scan, and the participants’ perceived risks showed that people are unknowingly exposing themselves to threats through bad habits such as relying on expired or old security software.
Today, nearly all new PCs come bundled with off-the-shelf security software provided as a limited-time trial or pre-paid, one-year subscription. However, at the end of the trial or full subscription period, buyers usually must renew the license and pay the vendor to continue the protection. If they don’t, they may no longer receive protection or crucial updates, exposing themselves to a myriad of online threats that grow daily.
Other key findings of the study include:
- Spyware Protection: When asked how safe they felt their home PC was from spyware, 92 percent of respondents felt “safe” or “somewhat safe.” In contrast, the Verizon Security Advisor scan revealed that the majority (58 percent) were “at risk” or “potential risk” from spyware infection. Nineteen percent were critically “at risk” from spyware infection.
- Virus Protection: When asked how safe they felt their home PC was from viruses, 92 percent of respondents felt “very safe” or “somewhat safe,” whereas the Verizon Security Advisor scan revealed that 45 percent were “at risk” or “potential risk” from virus infection.
- Firewall Protection: Nineteen percent of respondents had their personal firewall turned off.