Cybersecurity study reveals ‘misperceptions’ leave consumers vulnerable

Cybersecurity study reveals ‘misperceptions’ leave consumers vulnerable

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Even as digital threats soar and public awareness about digital dangers increases, consumers seem to lack a clear understanding of how and where cybersecurity threats are evolving.

According to a new study from Cujo AI, consumers have a wide range of misperceptions that could leave them vulnerable, even as they believe they are taking the necessary precautions. The company’s Cybersecurity Trends 2019 report was released this week at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

Cujo AI is based in El Segundo, California and provides a cybersecurity and device management platform for network operators such as Comcast and Charter. Its service now covers 16 million homes and reaches 275 million endpoints.

For the study, the company designed an online survey to analyze its end users’ perceptions. The study analyzed responses from 2,034 U.S. users who are connected to the Cujo AI Internet Security Firewall. The vast majority of those surveyed have some kind of secondary degree, and they tend to be early adopters living in a connected or smart home.

The good news: Among survey participants, 89.6 percent think cybercrime risks are increasing, including 41.3 percent who know someone who was a victim. About 25 percent say they have been victims themselves. Okay, that’s grim, but good news in the sense that people are not putting their heads in the sand.

While 59.1 percent feel “well-informed” about cyber threats, 51.2 percent don’t think they can fully protect themselves.

But…

This group is very focused on traditional tactics, like updating passwords and antivirus protection. Only 56.9 percent of people surveyed are taking measures that cybersecurity experts say are more critical, such as using two-factor authentication. Only 50.5 percent use a VPN when on public Wi-Fi, and just 50.5 percent regularly change security settings on their browsers, social media accounts, or email.

They also seemed largely unaware that smart home devices are becoming a leading target of attacks, including DVRs and wireless audio devices. And they are not putting the same emphasis on mobile device security, despite growing vulnerabilities, the report says.

In a ranking of threats, the highest awareness was around “viruses,” at 97.4 percent. But in terms of actual threats, Cujo’s data ranks viruses 10th on the list of most common types of attacks. Likewise, phishing and identity theft ranked first and second on the list of most common threats, but consumer awareness put them at third and fourth.

“Our survey participants do not put too much emphasis on the most common and severe threats, such as phishing, identity theft, financial fraud, or DDoS attacks,” the report says. “Participants are very aware of the different types of malware (viruses, spyware, ransomware). It’s important to note that this type of cyber threat is not as severe or common as other types of threats.”