A Cyber Security Awareness Study Reveals That Most People Find Advanced Security Measures "Inconvenient"

We have covered various topics on cyber security before. For instance, we discussed the differences between cyber security and information security. We also talked about its future. However, we believe it is important to understand that cyber security doesn’t exist in a vacuum. To ensure it, we have to have a high cyber security awareness. And the recent survey by Fiserv shows that Americans are aware they should be more active when it comes to employing advanced cyber security measures, but walking that extra mile is often deemed to be inconvenient.

Consumer Awareness

In order to understand why employing advanced cyber security measures might seem cumbersome to consumers, we need to look at the state of the overall cyber security awareness. According to the study, the situation isn’t really that bad. 82% of the respondents are clearly aware of the dangers and threats they might encounter online. The problem is that they stand on the so-called middle ground. It means that they have certain cyber security awareness, but they do not look deeper into it, and they only employ advanced cyber security measures when it’s convenient for them and doesn’t require extra effort.

Also, even if consumers are bothered by cyber security threats, sometimes they may not have enough information on how they can improve that situation. Needless to say, we all have to strive to protect ourselves from various threats, but a lot depends on the service providers and employers, too. If you want your business to be protected, you definitely need to raise your employees’ cyber security awareness. Leaving everything to good luck isn’t your best choice.

Consumer Vulnerability

When Fiserv asked about cyber vulnerability, the respondents indicated various areas where they feel the most vulnerable to cyberattacks. Three areas that were pointed out the most were social media (33%), online banking (25%), and online shopping (23%). It is not surprising that all three areas are very susceptible to hacks and other dangerous attacks. Service providers in all three areas are constantly striving to apply advanced cyber security measures to protect users and their data. That is why multi-factor authentication is gaining momentum, and almost every other service out there already urges their customers to turn this authentication option on.

Just like every single security lock out there, multi-factor authentication isn’t without flaws. But if you boast of your cyber security awareness, you will definitely have this option enabled. Of course, some users might deem it to be “inconvenient” because it offers a secondary layer of security, and thus, the process of logging into your account becomes longer. But it is definitely worth it if you want to protect your data.

Aside from employing advanced cyber security measures, consumers should also think of polishing their old habits, too. For instance, we should be more aware of our password security.

Consumer Behavior

One of the key stones of consumer behavior is password renewal. Now, stop and ask yourself, how often do you consciously renew your passwords? Even if your cyber security awareness is high, the chances are that you don’t do that unless you are prompted. And why is that? Well, because it’s “inconvenient.” You need to walk that extra mile; you need to make some effort when everything seems to be functioning just fine either way. After all, who would want to steal your information anyway, right?

Wrong.No information is useless, and so, hackers could easily steal your personal data as well, even if you think that you are not that important in the grand scheme of things. The least you could do is use a strong and unique password. Here you might say that it’s too much of a bother because not only do you need to create a strong password. You need to renew it regularly, and all of your passwords have to be unique across different accounts. This can definitely be inconvenient because it takes a lot of time to come up with new passwords and manage them accordingly. So, what do we do? We can use a password manager to help us create and manage new passwords. A reliable tool can definitely minimize the inconvenience we would otherwise face every day.

Another important aspect of your cyber security awareness is Wi-Fi networks. We probably have our own home networks protected with passwords (do not forget to renew those as well), but what about public networks? There are lots of public Wi-Fi networks out there that are not password-protected. Some public networks also use very simple passwords. It clearly means that hackers could crack those networks. That is why it is not recommended to perform sensitive tasks when you are connected to a public password-free network. For example, if you are performing some mobile banking operation on your phone, it’s better to switch to data than use public Wi-Fi.

It should also be noted that respondents in the Fiserv research were quite aware of phishing and spam email threats. The majority of consumers could tell a regular email and a spam email apart. From this, we can see that the prevalent threat of ransomware and data leak is still there due to casual negligence. It’s not because we don’t know that we could be exposed to potential threats through spam. It’s just that we often get caught in the moment of weakness when we think it won’t happen to us. That one slip is all it takes to get infected or to get our information stolen.

To take everything into account, the main reason advanced cyber security measures are thought to be inconvenient is because it requires additional effort on the consumer side. Some could say that it just means we’re lazy, but in reality, when our time is precious, it is only natural to seek out good and efficient solutions to our cyber security issues. And while it is true that there is a lot to be done on our side, businesses and the government should also do a lot more to fight cybercrime.

December 10, 2019

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