NEW YORK — With every keystroke and search on the Internet, the amount of information – and potential threats – we can have at our fingertips is infinite. But even in 2022, how much do we really know about cybersecurity? A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults shows that while 70 percent feel knowledgeable about cybersecurity, the average person still stumbles upon a suspicious online site or social media account 6.5 times a day.
Results show only 39 percent know that suspicious sites can spread malware and viruses in their computer. More than half (54%) are unaware of the difference between active and passive cybersecurity threats. Passive cybersecurity threats attack your devices without you even taking an action.
Are you ever safe?
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of AT&T, the survey also reports that 69 percent of consumers are confident they can identify suspicious websites at a glance – and share they know that these sites have potential risks for identity theft (45%). Even with this in mind, consumers admit to intentionally visiting unverified sites – identifiable as websites with many pop-ups, or no “s” in the “http” to define “secure” – to stream large sporting events, such as the U.S. Open and MLB games (38%). Others click them to download a hard-to-find song or video game (37%), and even to buy necessities for a big discount (36%).
When it comes to their password security, most people are reactive rather than proactive (34%), only taking action when they’re alerted of a login from another device. Forty-two percent of respondents also admit to using the same password across multiple logins, and 31 percent even use their birthday as their password.
“Whether browsing websites or apps, our results show less than 40% of people consider common security risks, with less than one-third keeping network intrusion (32%) and rogue mobile apps or software (31%) in mind,” says Josh Goodell, Vice President of Broadband Technology Management at AT&T, in a statement. “One way people can help mitigate their cybersecurity risks across the home is by using a VPN, or virtual private network, to encrypt their data and prevent potential hackers from tracking their online activity.”
Email attachments pose a major cybersecurity threat
To add to the ever-evolving risks brought upon by cyberspace, respondents noted having an average of about eight connected devices at home, such as smart TVs, thermostats, and doorbells. Nearly half (47%) who use these devices consider them to be a security risk.
Another common risk consumers encounter? Receiving emails from unknown senders. Nearly half the poll (48%) have received an email from someone they don’t know telling them to click on something, and 47 percent received an email or text message about winning a sweepstakes or raffle they didn’t enter.
Forty-five percent have even gotten a phone call from someone claiming to be from a government agency — an especially troubling statistic, given that 36 percent are more willing to reply to a message from someone they don’t know if it looks like it’s from an official organization.
Security risks are always going to be a part of the internet experience. However, maintaining a proactive approach while also leveraging the security technology we do have at our disposal will only help mitigate those risks.
“Combining your own proactive security habits with an internet service provider that offers security features such as identity monitoring, malicious site blocking and anti-virus scanning can help protect you against potential threats and provide peace of mind for your overall connected experience,” Goodell adds.