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National Cyber Security Awareness Month Kicks Off Today with Official Launch Event, Business Summit and Release of Online Safety Survey

90% of Americans Do Not Feel Completely Safe Online and Believe a Safe and Secure Internet is Crucial to U.S. Economic Security

WASHINGTON– The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cybersecurity awareness and education for all digital citizens, is officially kicking off the ninth annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) today with a launch event and business summit at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Scott Conference Center on the importance of cybersecurity for Internet users and businesses.

 National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a coordinated national effort focusing on the need for improved online safety and security for all Americans. Today’s events will feature remarks from federal, state and local officials, and cyber industry leaders from companies such as: ADP, VISA, Microsoft, PayPal, AT&T, Verizon, McAfee and Symantec.  The program of events will be broadcast via Facebook Live today beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET at: https://www.facebook.com/FacebookDC/app_105217732913495?ref=ts.

NCSA has also partnered with McAfee on a new survey to examine Americans’ online safety posture and the findings reveal a substantial disconnect between their respective online security perceptions and their actual practices while on the Internet. The online safety survey shows that we can all increase our efforts to make the Internet safer in light of such notable statistics:

  • A Safe Internet is Crucial to U.S. Economy: Ninety-percent of Americans agree that a safe and secure Internet is crucial to our nation’s economic security.
  • The Internet is Vital to American Jobs: Fifty-nine percent say their job is dependent on a safe and secure Internet and 78 percent say losing Internet access for 48 consecutive hours would be disruptive with 33 percent saying it would be extremely disruptive.
  • Yet a Majority of Americans Do Not Feel Completely Safe Online: Ninety-percent say they do not feel completely safe from viruses, malware and hackers while on the Internet.
  • A Quarter of Americans Were Notified That Their Personal Data was Exposed in Past Year:  Over one in four (26 percent) received notification by a business, online service provider or organization that their personally identifiable information (e.g. password, credit card number, email address, etc.) was lost or compromised because of a data breach.

“We are thrilled to be kicking of the ninth National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The Internet is central to our daily lives and our economy and this new survey shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe keeping this system safe and secure is vital,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. “The Internet is a shared resource for so many of our daily activities which is why protecting it is a shared responsibility. We advise every computer user to STOP. THINK. CONNECT. to stay safe online. Everyone should take security measures, understand the consequences of their actions and behaviors and enjoy the benefits of the Internet.”

NCSA Board President and Assistant Vice President for Public Policy at AT&T Services Inc., Chris Boyer added: “National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a time for us to all reflect on past measures we’ve taken to stay safe online and determine how we can improve upon them. We want all audiences to understand that protecting the Internet is increasingly becoming a matter of public safety. If we each do our part to stay safe online the Internet will continue to become a safer and more secure environment.”

“The threat to the safety of Americans online is growing every day and as the survey shows the fear of Americans has also grown to 90 percent,” said Gary Davis, vice president of global consumer marketing at McAfee. “It is our responsibility to make sure that consumers are aware of these growing threats so they can be best prepared to defend themselves against these hidden criminals. We are very excited to work with NCSA once again to bring these issues to the forefront and continue these efforts to educate the public on these very real threats to consumers’ privacy, identity and overall online safety.”

The survey of 1,000 adult Internet users found disparities between online safety perceptions and actual practices in important areas such as smartphone security and password protection measures. Key findings show:

  • Smartphone Internet Use Continues to Grow, Yet Security Protections Lag:
    • Nearly half of Americans (49 percent) use their smartphones to access the Internet, which is a six percent increase from the 2011 NCSA/McAfee Online Safety Survey that found 44 percent of adults accessed the Internet using a smartphone.
    • Sixty-four percent feel their smartphones are safe from hackers yet – pointing to a strong disconnect – nearly the same amount (58 percent) of current smartphone users have never backed up their devices by storing the information or data elsewhere.
    • Further underscoring this disconnect, over three-fifths (64 percent) of Americans have never installed security software or apps to protect against viruses or malware. Considering the rapid growth in smartphone users, it is imperative that they take extra measures to provide the highest level of protection possible to keep their devices safe.
  • Age of Acceptance for Children to Own Tablet, Smartphones Growing Increasingly Younger:
    • Forty-six percent of Americans say it is appropriate for children ages 10-16 to own a tablet and 53 percent to own a smartphone. This is an increase in findings from the 2011 NCSA/McAfee Online Safety Study, which found that 40 percent thought it was appropriate to own a tablet and 44 percent to own smartphones. As it becomes more acceptable for younger aged individuals to own and use Internet connected devices, it is vital they understand how to stay safe online.
  • Inappropriate Content Most Concerning for Parents:
    • Parents are most worried about children discovering adult sexual content/pornography (39 percent) followed by having contact with strangers when they are online (27 percent). Ten percent are worried about bullying or harassment from peers.  Additionally, as youth identity theft is growing as an issue, nine percent of parents are concerned about their children’s identity being put at risk.
  • Americans Believe Unsecured Wireless Networks Put Them Most at Risk for Cybercrime:
    • Sixty-one percent of Americans feel safest accessing the Internet using a laptop or desktop with nine percent feeling safest using a smartphone and three percent using a tablet. (22 percent have only ever accessed the Internet using a desktop/laptop.)
    • Many Americans think that connecting to an unsecured wireless network puts them most at risk to cybercrime or loss of personal information (30 percent), followed by not having any or enough security software (22 percent).
  • “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) To Work is Popular Yet Formal Employer BYOD Policies Lacking:
    • The survey also included a sub-sample of Americans’ cyber security practices and attitudes in the workplace.  Roughly half (48 percent) are allowed to use a personal tablet, smartphone or laptop to perform job functions while 31 percent can connect to their work network using these personal devices.
    • At the same time, 44 percent of respondents say their employers do not have formal BYOD policies. When employers fail to put proper policies in place to protect their data infrastructures, they not only put their information at risk but they also leave their networks susceptible to cyber threats.
  • As Password Theft Increases, Many People Change Their Passwords:
    • Twenty-three percent say they changed the password on a major online account without being prompted to do so by the service provider in the past six months (23 percent) and 14 percent in the last year, 13 percent in last week, and 23 percent in the past month. Seventeen percent have never changed their passwords.
    • Forty-nine percent of social media users say they changed their passwords once or more this past year, with six percent changing passwords weekly. At the same time, 42 percent have never changed their social media passwords.
    • Sixty-one percent of respondents changed their online banking account passwords at least once a year while 28 percent have never changed their passwords. Password identity theft is quickly becoming a top security threat. NCSA encourages everyone to change password information as frequently as possible.
  • Americans Open to the Idea of being Notified if their Computers are Infected by Viruses and Malware:
    • A majority of respondents (86 percent) say they want to be notified if a trusted third party (e.g. Internet service provider (ISP), financial institution, e-commerce site) knew that their computer was infected with a virus or malware with 66 percent strongly agreeing.

This data shows that Americans can improve their online safety practices in a number of areas, especially when it comes to accessing the Internet from their personal devices. We can all increase our online safety practices by starting with these simple ways to stay safe online:

  • Keep a Clean Machine. Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, Web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Own your Online Presence. When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It's ok to limit how and with whom you share information.
  • Connect with Care. Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots and when banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites security is enabled.
  • Make Passwords Long, Strong and Unique. Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password. Have a different password for each account.
  • Protect all Devices that Connect to the Internet. Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems, and other Web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

JZ Analytics conducted the online safety survey. The survey firm, founded by John Zogby, surveyed 1,000 adults nationwide from August 31, 2012 to September 3, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points and margins of error are higher in sub-groups. NCSA is also releasing an infographic today about how protecting the Internet is our shared responsibility. The infographic along with the full study and fact sheet are available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/resources/.

The new National Cyber Security Awareness Month Web Portal is available at http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/ and a calendar of NCSAM events can be found at http://staysafeonline.org/ncsam/events. NCSAM supporters can get the latest news and updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/staysafeonline and on Twitter at @StaySafeOnline. The official Twitter hashtag of NCSAM is #ncsam. NCSA also welcomes organizations to show their support for NCSAM by becoming an official NCSAM Champion and submitting their registration at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/champions/.

 

About The National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance is a non-profit organization. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors, the mission of the NCSA is to educate and empower a digital citizenry to use the Internet securely and safely protecting themselves and the technology they use and the digital assets we all share. NCSA board members include: ADP, AT&T, Bank of America, EMC Corporation, ESET, Facebook, Google, Intel, McAfee, Microsoft, PayPal, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Symantec, Trend Micro, Verizon and Visa. Visit www.staysafeonline.org for more information and join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/staysafeonline

 

About  STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
The campaign was developed by the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Messaging Convention, a public-private partnership established in 2009 and led by The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) and National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to develop and support a national cybersecurity awareness campaign.  The Department of Homeland Security provides the Federal Government's leadership for the campaign. Industry, government, non-profits and education institutions participate in STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Learn how to get involved at the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/STOPTHINKCONNECT, on Twitter at @STOPTHNKCONNECT, and the campaign website at www.stopthinkconnect.org.



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