New research shows a startling decrease of online security practices among Irish computer users, worse results in all categories of a comparative 2011/2013 survey.
In 2011 ESET Ireland has commissioned the first survey with Amárach Research, to determine how Irish computer users comply with their Antivirus software’s warnings. The results weren’t optimistic back then, as large percentages ignored their Antivirus’ warnings and voluntarily exposed their computers and networks to infection.
In 2013 we asked Amárach to repeat the survey, to see what the situation is like now and, unfortunately, the results we received show that the situation has deteriorated in every category we asked about.
So… when an Antivirus, any Antivirus, alerted the users something potentially bad was detected, now only 52% complied with the warning (was 66%), 19% stayed on a website they got warned about (was 15%), 24% ignored the warning when they tried to open a potentially infected file or program (was 14%), 8% actually disabled their Antivirus, because it wouldn’t let them open a file or a program or look at a website (was 6%), and 6% use no Antivirus software (was 4%).
The demographic breakdown shows some very interesting patterns. The youngest generation (ages 15-24) is the only one where complying with Antivirus warnings has actually increased (from 35% to 46%), so they seem to be taking things more seriously than they used to. But the midlife cyber-crisis seems to have hit the 35-44 year-olds hard, as they have shown the worst decline. Of 74% that used to trust their Antivirus’ warnings only 45% do so now, they are the worst age group when it comes to dodgy websites, as now 20% ignore warnings and continue surfing, while only 9% used to and they are also the worst when it comes to opening suspicious or infected files or programs, as 26% now ignore warnings, from the previous 11%.
While it is somewhat comforting that the percentage of people without any Antivirus protection is still relatively low, it is quite concerning that so many have it, but don’t comply with the warnings.
Any Antivirus tries to automatically prevent infections and the spreading of viruses and other malware. But that cannot work if computer users ignore or disable the protection, because they’re intent on doing something with the computer, regardless of the consequences. Malware is not used just to annoy users, but to steal their passwords, banking and credit card details, entangle them in scams and fraud, etc., all things that can have serious financial consequences. Is visiting that one dodgy site really worth that risk? Can we seriously expect our information superhighway traffic to be safe, if only one half of the drivers notices the traffic lights, one quarter willingly ignores them and one in twelve drives without brakes?