Few Americans understand cyber security

Americans are pretty good at knowing they need secure passwords, but when it comes to cyber security, a Pew Research Center study found there’s a lot Americans don’t know.

Seventy-five percent of those surveyed could pick the most secure password out of a list of four options, but 73 percent weren’t sure what a botnet was.

“A botnet is essentially thousands or hundreds of thousands of zombie computers: computers that have been taken over by an attacker,” said Jeremy Johnson, Director of Offensive Security Services.

He says the hacker basically takes control of your computer to help do his dirty work.

The Pew study showed 73 percent of those surveyed understood that using public wifi, even if pass protected, is not always safe for sensitive activities, like banking.

However, only 48 percent were sure what Ransomware was. Johnson says that’s when a hacker encrypts all your files with a password or key that you don’t know.

“In order to recover your files and photos you have to pay the attacker money,” he said.

Of the 13 questions asked about cyber security, only 20 percent of those surveyed answered eight questions correctly.

Learning about the potential risks is one way to guard against cyberattacks. Johnson also recommends using anti-virus software, using the newest operating systems, and installing security patches from your software provider, promptly.

Failing to do that leaves gaps in your protection.

“From a security perspective, your computers starts to look more like Swiss cheese. It’s full of holes,” said Johnson.


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