Poor security awareness amongst Mac, smartphone and tablet users: Survey

  • One-sixth of users completely vulnerable modern threats
  • 50% of MacBook and 65% of smartphone users don’t use security software

Poor security awareness amongst Mac, smartphone and tablet users: SurveyA SURVEY of American and European consumers found poor levels of security amongst Macintosh, smartphone and tablet users – in fact, only half of those who own Apple laptops install security software on their MacBooks.

The survey, performed by security software specialist Kaspersky Lab in partnership with Harris Interactive, found that the most widely used feature to protect users’ personal assets is password protection.

Security software is used by 85% of desktop and 84% of laptop owners, leaving about one- sixth of computer users completely unprotected from modern threats, Kaspersky said in a statement.

For other devices security software is used even less frequently. Only half of those who own Apple laptops install security software on their MacBook. The same applies to tablets, and only 35% of those who own a smartphone protect it with a security suite, the company said.

More than 8,000 consumers from the United States and Europe took part in the survey. Slightly more than half of them were not only active users of Internet and modern technologies, but also gave advice to their friends and relatives about technology matters.

At the same time, 32% of the users surveyed try to stick with their existing devices for as long as possible. Only 12% of users said that they are somewhat scared of new technology.

The majority of consumers worldwide nowadays use several devices to go online, exchange e-mails with friends and colleagues, and store their personal and work data.

The most popular devices are traditional computers, both desktops and laptops, with a noticeable portion of Apple computers. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are on the rise, and they are used heavily for all types of activities.

At the same time the level of protection for Macs, smartphones and tablets is noticeably poor. This is an alarming fact, because such devices sometimes store the most sensitive data, Kaspersky said.

Poor security awareness amongst Mac, smartphone and tablet users: Survey

Free security suxxors?

Even though today’s computer users are well aware of cyber threats, about 60% of them are happy to skimp on antivirus protection and use a free solution – even if it leaves their personal and financial data vulnerable, said Kaspersky.

However, the same research shows that there is significant user awareness of the existence of online threats, and many users have already suffered from malware and other cyber-attacks.

Nevertheless, the vast majority entrust their security to free solutions which are unable to compete with the capability and functionality of paid-for, specifically engineered solutions, the company claimed.

For instance, in AV-Test.org testing conducted in December 2011, Kaspersky Lab’s product demonstrated significant advantages over commonplace free solutions.

In that testing, Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 was pitted against four free antivirus solutions on several identical PCs running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 installed.

Free Antivirus 6.0 blocked 95 threats but completely missed another five. Microsoft Security Essentials blocked 86 threats but missed 14. Avira Free Antivirus 2012 completely missed 13 threats and only partially blocked one other. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 completely missed four threats, and partially blocked five other malicious objects.

Two of the four freebies also wrongly picked out clean programs as malicious: avast! Free Antivirus 6.0 made one false positive, and AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 had eight.

The trends

Among the main findings of the survey:

Traditional computers are still the first choice to surf the web and other activities. The share of new devices like tablets is relatively low, although fully-functional and Internet-enabled smartphones are used by almost half of those surveyed.

Highly sensitive data like personal and work documents and e-mails, personal photos and even banking credentials are frequently stored on devices with inferior protection. This applies to Apple computers and tablets – most Mac users expect these devices to protect themselves - but also to other tablets and smartphones, with low take-up of security software.

Free Wi-Fi hotspots present a real danger to users of mobile devices: They are the most popular means of mobile Internet connection, despite almost non-existent security.

Social media is the second most popular online activity. This new approach to online communication is still less popular than the oldest one – e-mail. At the same time, consumers have had enough time to understand the dangers of online communities: They are suspicious of strangers and strange links, and of sharing personal information in the open.

Although users acknowledge the existence of various online threats, a significant share of them are reckless in terms of security. Even now 16% of laptop owners, 50% of Macbook users and 65% of smartphone owners do not use any kind of security software on their devices.

The full results of the survey conducted by Harris Interactive in February-March 2012 are available at:
KasperskyLab Consumer Survey Report

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