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Data breaches and ransomware attacks are getting worse, but most people are not taking simple steps to protect themselves, according to a report released today that asked 2,000 individuals in the United States and the United Kingdom about cyber security attitudes and behaviors.
The report was conducted by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, a nonprofit security advocacy group, and CybSafe, a behavioral security and data analytics company.
The report documents a clear disruption between IT professionals in the technology industry and the public when it comes to driving the adoption of best practices for cybersecurity. Public response and implementation of well-known best practices — including strong passwords, multifactor authentication (MFA), and others — are lukewarm at best, the report found. The best practice results include:
- Poor password hygiene: Less than half (46%) of respondents say they use a different password for important online accounts, with 20% saying they “never” or “rarely” do so. In addition, only 43% said they create a long and unique password either “always” or “very often.”
- Multifactor approval remains a mystery: Nearly half (48%) of respondents say they “have never heard of MFA.”
- Software update installation lags: Nearly one-third (31%) of respondents say they either “sometimes”, “rarely” or “never” install software updates.
“There is overwhelming evidence that simple best practices such as strong passwords, MFAs, and regular installation of updates can work wonders to increase overall cyber security,” said CybSafe CEO and founder Oz Alashe. To reverse the trend in people not taking these steps, IT professionals need to take a more humane focus when designing security solutions, the report concluded.
Other results of the report include the following:
- 25% of millennials and 24% of Gen Zers said they had stolen their identity once, unlike only 14% of baby boomers
- 34% of the people have personally been victims of a cybercrime
- 64% of respondents have no access to cybersecurity training, while 27% of those who have access choose not to use it
Cybercrime is considered more common among millennia and Gen Z
Millennials (44%) and Gen Z (51%) say they are more likely to have experienced a cyber threat than baby boomers (21%), the report found. In addition, 25% of millennials and 24% of Gen Zers said they had had their identities stolen once, as opposed to only 14% of baby boomers. In fact, 79% of baby boomers said they had never been the victim of cybercrime, according to the report.
“Despite the myth that older individuals are more likely to be susceptible to cybercriminals and their tactics, our research has revealed that younger generations are far more likely to acknowledge that they have been victims of cybercrime,” the NCA said interim CEO Lisa Plaggemier. “This is a strong reminder to the technology industry that we cannot take cybersecurity awareness for granted among any demographic and need to focus on the nuances of each group. And it is clear that we need to reconsider the notion that younger individuals are more technology savvy and more often involved in cybersecurity best practices than older technology users. ”
Reporting challenges undermines cybersecurity
Of those who were victims of cybercrime, 61% said they did not report the incident. Only 22% of respondents said they “always” reported a phishing attempt – one of the leading types of threats used by cybercriminals.
“The technology industry relies on reporting as one of the key pillars to identify and stop bad actors, but even those directly affected by cybercrime routinely fail to notify the relevant parties that an incident has occurred,” said CybSafe’s Alashe. “In daily life, it is a different nature for individuals to report a crime if they see one; however, this behavior is not replicated with cybercrime. It is crucial that cybersecurity staff get to the bottom of why this is the case, as raising reporting rates among people will be crucial in freeing up time for cyber professionals, helping them prioritize threats and adjusting their strategies. ”
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