Consumers oddly confident in their cybersecurity, even as their data is stolen

Most Americans feel they have a firm grip on their home network's security level and children's internet activities even though they have taken few steps to ensure that this is true.
Most Americans feel they have a firm grip on their home network's security level and children's internet activities even though they have taken few steps to ensure that this is true.

The average homeowner and parent would not leave their home unlocked with criminals in the area nor would they let their children wander about with predators on the loose, but when it comes to protecting their home and kids online many people are rather blasé about the danger.

A survey of 1,433 adults in the U.S. by ESET and the National CyberSecurity Alliance, Behind Our Digital Doors: Cybersecurity & the Connected Home found 79 percent felt confidently safe that their home network and connected devices are secure. This, even though 40 percent said they had never changed the factory-set password on their wireless router, and another 20 percent saying they had been the victim of data theft in the past year.

Michael Kaiser, executive director at National Cyber Security Alliance, told SCMagazine.com in an email Thursday that most people would not even know if their home's router was breached.

“The infection of home router is generally not detected by the end user, or not detected as a breach. So, they may notice strange behavior and take some action that solves the problem, like reconfiguring the router or getting a new one, all without knowing the source of the problem,” he said.

This survey explained why odd knowledge-confidence dichotomy takes place by pointing out that many Americans are simply overwhelmed by the number of connected devices residing in the average home and that many people are not prepared for the current always on, always connected world. The survey found 67 percent of homes had between one and five connected devices, 30 percent had six or more and 5 percent had 11 or more gadgets.

The primary recommendation is for each home to appoint a CISO to oversee this digital menagerie.

“Someone who spends time thinking about all the digital components in the household, assesses what security systems need fixing or upgrading, determines an action plan in case of an incident, and makes cybersecurity discussions a regular part of the conversation,” the report said.

When it comes to protecting their kids from online threats the disconnect is similar to what is going on in the home. The survey found that 60 percent of parents are confident they know everything their child is doing online, 64 percent are confident of their child's online activities and 61 percent are confident their kids can use the internet safely.

Parents may have a false sense of security concerning their child's cyber safety because 75 percent said they have chatted with their children on internet safety and 81 percent of those having two talks per year.

On the flip side 59 percent of the parents responded they allow their kids to download apps, games or join social media without their express permission. Another 60 percent allow the children to share passwords with friends and 70 percent don't limit the type of personal information the child shares on social media.

“This evolution of parenting is a positive indicator that cybersecurity is becoming an in-house norm. However, looking closely at the wide range of rules set by parents, many omitted significant protections for passwords, privacy, piracy and basic etiquette,” the report concluded.

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