Security journalists fail to protect themselves from online threats

A recent survey of the cyber security habits of the working press raises interesting questions about the practices of users in general. In spite of the high visibility the media has given to cyber security, members of the press are dropping the ball in efforts to protect themselves against online threats.

The survey found that 80 percent of media staff rarely or never inform their network administrator of online security concerns they encounter. More than half don’t change their passwords, or rely on their company to do it for them, even though 13 percent have experienced critical data loss or system failure due to malware to their systems.

These findings are part of an online Protect the Press Poll survey by the BPM Forum and AVG Technologies of more than 100 online, print, and broadcast media to examine the security priorities, prevention mechanisms, and breaches that editors, reporters, and publishers face in their daily business. The results suggest that they are largely at risk of compromise or infection from online activities conducted to develop a story.

Like consumers, nearly 70 percent of press reporters and editors feel threatened by online malware or spyware, and most feel at risk conducting everyday online activities as part of their business, including downloads, email, and correspondence with story sources yet most are failing to take basic steps to secure their cyber activities.

While 57 percent of the reporters surveyed considered themselves advanced or expert at detecting online risks (52 percent of those polled have actually covered the topic of online security and privacy), the majority were failing to follow basic security practices. In fact, nearly 60 percent of those that placed importance on information security never changed their password.

More than 40,000 new viruses and other malware arrive in virus labs around the world every day. The most damaging and widespread of these attacks have caused billions in losses. While the attacks are well documented in the media, more than 60 percent feel that their IT department or service provider is doing just an “OK” job or not very well at protecting their computers. Spam, phishing, and malware infection are the top threats that editors face. Like many other industries, the media faces compounded risks due to their increased dependence on wireless access and social networking to do their job.

The survey shows that:

  • 36 percent use Wi-Fi networks most of the time, potentially endangering them to security risks associated with public networks
  • 90 percent of them use some sort of social networking site, with LinkedIn (75 percent) the most popular site followed by Facebook (70 percent) and Twitter (51 percent).
  • 20 percent access social networking sites both from their mobile phone and their computer.

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