A new study from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Norton by Symantec was just released that details the Internet habits of users as well as their opinions on online safety. The groups' collaborative Online Safety Study, commonly referred to as the home user study, has been released on an annual basis during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. But this year's study featured a twist.
Although the study has been a traditional yearly practice, the way in which the 2010 edition was conducted differs from the past. Instead of just asking participants about their online safety habits, the NCSA and Norton also scanned their computers to see how they were protecting themselves.
For the study, the NCSA surveyed 3,498 participants in the United States and Symantec scanned approximately 400 computers. Results of the study showed the ever-growing presence of the Internet across the nation. It found that around 50 percent of American households have two or three computers. Almost three out of four participants own a netbook or laptop, and 31 percent considered their laptops to be their primary computer.
Other less traditional devices are being used to connect to the Internet as well. Of those polled, 24 percent said they connect to the Internet via a gaming device such as a PS3, while 17 percent connect through their televisions.
As the amount of web-enabled devices grows, so does the need for increased security and protection. When asked if they had a wireless router, 70 percent said yes. Of those who owned wireless routers, 85 percent said their networks were protected by passwords. In terms of using other Wi-Fi networks, 43 percent said they connected to unsecured networks. When participants aged 18 to 29 were asked about connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi, 66 percent admitted to doing so.
Feelings regarding online safety were also brought into play. When comparing Internet safety to a year ago, 68 percent said it was the same, 21.2 percent said it is less safe than before, and 5.1 percent said it is now safer than in 2009. Nearly half of the participants claimed that identity theft was a major area of concern online. As far as who is responsible for online safety, four percent said it was the government's duty, 30 percent cited Internet service providers, and 44 percent said it was their own responsibility.
Although the poll revealed that the majority of people feel it is their own responsibility to stay safe online, their scanned computers told another story. Nearly 58 percent claimed that they ran a complete security suite on their computers. When their computers were scanned by Symantec, however, only 37 percent were fully protected. According to Symantec, full protection consists of antivirus, antispyware, firewall, identity protection, antiphishing, and spam filtering. Thus, many of those polled had a false sense of security regarding their computer's protection.
The study also had an interesting comparison between feelings on the safety of a computer versus that of a mobile phone. While 61 percent said they felt somewhat safe while surfing the net on their computers, only 28 percent said the same when it came to mobile phones. Also, 87 percent said that their computers offered better protection against viruses and hackers than mobile phones.
For more, visit http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20021038-83.html?tag=mncol;title
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