Cybersecurity failing grade

A newly released study from the Pew Research Center revealed most Americans are not aware of basic cybersecurity practices.

The study surveyed 4,272 American adults on a variety of technology-related issues and found that most of them struggled with basic cybersecurity concepts. Only 28 percent of respondents were familiar with two-factor authentication, and only 30 percent were aware that “https://” in a web address meant the connection was encrypted. Only 2 percent of those surveyed answered all ten questions correctly.

On privacy-related issues, the survey saw showed significant gaps in basic knowledge. Less than half of the subjects could correctly define privacy policies as “contracts between websites and users about how those sites will use their data,” and only 24 percent were aware that “private browsing” only hides online activities from other people using the same computer.

Adults with bachelor’s or advanced degrees tended to consistently score higher than those with high school educations or less. Respondents aged 18-29 also performed better than those above the age of 65, although the gap was smaller than that of the level of education achieved. 

The lack of awareness regarding https and two-factor authentication is perhaps most troubling since there have been widespread efforts to encourage the usage of https, and recent data released suggesting two-factor authentication protects users against 99.9% of cyberattacks.

The findings of the study paint a bleak picture for cybersecurity in U.S. workplaces, where employee or contractor ignorance and negligence have consistently been one of the largest causes of data breaches for the last several years. 

See the Pew Research report here