New Study Shows Need for Americans to Focus on Securing Online Accounts and Backing Up Critical Data

October 29, 2009

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Americans today are getting the message that Internet safety and security is critical to their daily lives but many still need to employ safer cyber hygiene, according to the 2009 National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)-Symantec Online Safety Study, released by the NCSA and Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC), makers of Norton security software.

The study results show that 85 percent of Americans feel they are most responsible for keeping their computers secure, and 40 percent feel that individual computer users are most responsible for keeping the entire Internet secure. Yet, some of their online behaviors limit their ability to protect their valuable information and data.

Only 27 percent of Americans make an electronic backup of their critical files on a weekly basis. More than 55 percent backup their files less often than once a month. Couple those findings with the fact that the use of computers to store personal data such as photos (76 percent), music (60 percent), banking information (39 percent) and tax returns (30 percent) continues to steadily rise, computer users face potential significant losses of valuable information.

Passwords are also a critical component of cybersecurity. Passwords are how computer users securely access online services and personal information. However, the study found that less than 25 percent of those polled change passwords quarterly and more than 50 percent of Americans never change them. In addition, 40 percent of those surveyed don’t use different passwords for their various online accounts.

Computer users have a high level of control over the passwords they use. The NCSA recommends the use of long, complex passwords that incorporate upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. In addition, to prevent hackers from accessing multiple accounts, computer users should have different passwords for every account and change passwords at least once every 90 days.

“The fact that 85 percent of Americans believe they are most responsible for their own online security is a significant sign that awareness efforts are paying off and each one of us understands the important role we play in securing the Internet,” said NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser. “However, cybersecurity requires vigilance, maintenance and contingency planning every day of the year. Complex passwords and backing up are critical. Americans are doing better; they need to do better still and integrate cybersecurity into their lives until it’s second nature.”

The survey results also demonstrate that while Americans are taking ownership for their online security, there is still much need for ongoing education and awareness efforts. Only 19 percent are very confident they can determine if a Web site is safe and just 40 percent have had any type of cybersecurity or cyber safety training. Yet, computer users realize there are numerous threats out there as only 7 percent believe that the Internet is safer this year than last.

“While everyone should use an internet security suite, education is critical for staying safe online. This means developing good habits while you enjoy the Internet and staying aware of today’s threats,” said Janice Chaffin, group president, Consumer Business Unit, Symantec. “National Cyber Security Awareness Month is an important opportunity to educate the public about digital dangers. With the average identity going for $10 on the cyber black market, we strongly suggest that consumers use the Norton Online Risk Calculator to assess their worth to a cybercriminal and read our Cybercrime Exposed booklet, both of which are available for free at our Every Click Matters website.”

“Computer users need to be kept current on protective measures and ways to reduce their risk,” Kaiser said. “The Internet holds great promise to help us create a global community where we can share experiences and ideas and conduct commerce. However, that possibility is not unlimited unless we secure cyber space so everyone can participate safely.”

Additional study results are available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/content/2009-cyber-security-study

For the study, NCSA commissioned a Zogby International survey of more than 3,500 Americans and Symantec conducted checkups of 400 Americans’ personal computers performed by Symantec’s NortonLive Services . The Zogby poll has a margin of error of +/- 1.7 percent and the checkup has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.

About The National Cyber Security Alliance

The National Cyber Security Alliance is a nonprofit organization. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors, the mission of the NCSA is to empower a digital citizenry to use the Internet securely and safely protecting themselves, the networks they use, and the cyber infrastructure. NCSA works to create a culture of cyber security and safety through education and awareness activities. Visit www.staysafeonline.org for more information. Friend us on Facebook and follow @staysafeonline on Twitter.

About Norton From Symantec

Symantec’s Norton products protect consumers from traditional threats with antivirus, anti-spyware and phishing protection, as well as bots, drive-by downloads and identity theft — while also being light on system resources. The company also provides services such as online backup and PC tune-up, and is a trusted source for family online safety. Friend us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/norton and follow @NortonOnline on Twitter.

About Symantec

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world. Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available at www.symantec.com.

About National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month is supported by Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Security Division (NCSD), the National Cyber Security Alliance, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) and other partners to educate the American public, businesses, schools and government agencies about ways to secure their part of cyber space, computers and our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Cyber Security is Our Shared Responsibility.

SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance

Source: newswire

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