Worldwide survey: Security risks are higher than you think

Today’s Internet surfers are feeling lucky in love with nearly seven in 10 adults reporting that the Internet improves their relationships, according to the second annual Norton Online Living Report. But it’s not all happy connections and relationships. Unfortunately, when it comes to the eternal worry – do you know where your kids are? – the answer is: not always. Parents are in the dark, with kids reporting spending nearly twice as much time online as their parents think.

The worldwide survey also found that a whopping 99 percent of online adults say they have taken steps to secure their personal information online, yet unsafe surfing, dangerous habits and hacked computers are alarmingly common. Nearly half of online adults knowingly visit un-trusted Web sites, don’t back up their data and use unsafe passwords. About a third report someone trying to hack into their computer.

Can technology buy you love?

Nearly seven in 10 online adults say that the Internet has improved their relationships. And it’s no wonder: those who have friends online have an average of approximately 41 online friends, 49 percent have a social networking page, and 24 percent sometimes share secrets online. In fact, the Internet has become such a central vehicle for communication and connection that about six in 10 online adults say they could not live without it.

Do you know where your kids are online?

Last year’s report found that about one in five kids admitted to looking at or doing things online that they knew their parents wouldn’t condone. This year they got caught, with about one in five online parents saying they have nabbed their kids for unapproved online behavior.

The good news is that 90 percent of online parents recognize their responsibility to protect kids online and are initiating more dialogue on the topic—20 percent more than last year. Some kids are even opening the door and closing the online generation gap: 25 percent are “friending” their parents online and 10 percent are using technologies like IM, social networking, email, and texting to link to their grandparents.

So you think you’re secure?

Despite the fact that 99 percent of online adults feel they take steps to be secure, this year’s report found that many consumers are not fully protected as they flirt, share and make friends online. While it seems the average consumer is aware of the need for Internet security, some don’t run virus scans or have adequate protection for today’s threats. Even more troubling, about two in 10 online adults worldwide don’t use any security software at all. This is especially surprising given that one in three of online adults have experienced the pain of a hard drive crash, lost irreplaceable data or have had someone break into their computer. Even so, an overwhelming nine in 10 online adults and youth agree that the benefits of the Internet outweigh the risks.

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