Print 35 comment(s) - last by Pythias.. on Oct 10 at 7:41 AM

Users continue not to install antivirus software, believe they have protections they don't

Every year there's a kickoff for a campaign on cyber-security awareness in the form of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  The campaign looks to better inform people on the hazards that may await them online.  Each year, Symantec and the National Cyber Security Alliance perform some basic assessments of users' internet behaviors and each year they get a disappointing confirmation that many Americans still just don't get some important concepts cyber security.

In the most recent study, conducted by October 2, there were some signs of progress.  Most Americans were aware that the internet presented many dangers from identity theft to computer hijacking.  Additionally most believed they were taking steps to counter these threats.

However, there appears to be a growing trend towards a false sense of security.  Of those surveyed, 80 percent claimed to have a firewall installed on their system.  However, only 42 percent actually had sufficient firewall defenses.  NCSA (National Cyber Security Alliance) and Symantec obtained the information via a combination of polling and checks performed by Symantec's PC Help by Norton. 

NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser described at a National Press Club conference, "We must redouble our efforts to ensure that Americans know how to use all of the tools necessary to protect their computers, themselves and their families from harm.  Too often, cyber-security has been made to seem complicated and inaccessible. Staying safe online appears daunting for users."

The National Cyber Security Awareness Month enjoys the support of many partners, government and public.  Its supporters include the DHS (Department of Homeland Security), Symantec, McAfee, Cisco Systems and Microsoft.

While Americans remain very confused on cyber security, Mr. Kaiser says that "great strides" are being made to convince these individuals to change their habits.  He credits the campaign for part of this progress.  The campaign target spyware awareness for the early focus of the four-year cyber security campaign.  The study founded that users' assessment of their spyware protection matched reality closely, with 83 percent saying they had it and 82 percent actually having it.  Still, Mr. Kaiser and others say it is alarming that almost a fifth of internet-connected Americans have no spyware protection.

Adam Rak, senior director of public affairs for Symantec, warns, "Anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software are the front-line basic protections that all Americans should have."

At least the survey illustrates that Americans are starting to understand the danger that exists.  Only 26 percent of those polled said that there computers were "very safe" against viruses, and only 21 percent responded that their computers were "very safe" versus hacker assaults.  DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Gregory Garcia praised the program, claiming that in 2007 it reached 133 million Americans.  Last year Canada joined the program as well.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff announced in a statement, "Because no single entity owns the Internet, the federal government needs the cooperation of both the private sector and everyday citizens to protect against a range of cyber-threats."

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I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Spivonious on 10/6/2008 10:38:31 AM , Rating: 5
I have never had a virus, and only got hit with some minor spyware once back in 2002 (pre SP1 XP).

I now run Vista 64 with UAC turned on and use 64-bit IE7 with Protected Mode on. Please explain to me how a virus will somehow make its way on to my computer and cause irreparable damage.

Every few months or so I install and run Avast! and it finds nothing.

Maybe most users have realized that the computer runs a lot faster with common sense than it does with Norton/McAfee crap running in the background.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Spivonious on 10/6/2008 10:50:49 AM , Rating: 2
Just to add a qualifier to my claim, I've been using computers since 1985 (go Apple II/C!), and computers connected to the Internet since 1994 (and before then using Prodigy).

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Lord 666 on 10/6/2008 10:55:58 AM , Rating: 4
Then this disclaimer is more of a disqualifier as you clearly do not represent the average American.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By porkpie on 10/6/2008 7:14:07 PM , Rating: 3
I don't run antivirus software either, and I've used a computer almost every day for the past 15 years.

Not doing stupid things like opening email with attachments is better security than things like Norton AV.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By threepac3 on 10/6/2008 12:28:00 PM , Rating: 2
I have always wondered this: How can you say you don't get viruses(trojins, worms, destructive malware), if you don't use a good anti-virus or firewall program?

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By rykerabel on 10/6/2008 6:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
By installing one.
Testing for viruses.
And after finding that yes, basic precautions > virus and thus there are none and AV is not needed, then uninstalling the Antivirus software.

Same here, been online since 1987 (DARPAnet) and I only install/test/uninstall AV twice a year. Have only gotten a virus once when my son downloaded a program from Disney O.o and I removed that one manually without any software (and tested using software to confirm).

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Zoomer on 10/6/2008 9:48:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, me too.

The only virus I came across was a harmless little POS that I caught while I was scanning an incoming unknown floppy on my 486. Don't remember it's name, unfortunately. Back then, mcafee was actually good.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By chick0n on 10/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Master Kenobi on 10/6/2008 11:06:57 AM , Rating: 2
Protected Mode will stop the majority of Drive-By's.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Spivonious on 10/6/2008 11:08:55 AM , Rating: 3
what's the address? I'm game for a challenge.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By GaryJohnson on 10/6/2008 11:13:29 AM , Rating: 2
Me too. My IE7 is unsinkable.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Master Kenobi on 10/6/2008 11:42:04 AM , Rating: 2
I'll bite, I'm on IE8 and have hardened it considerably.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Motoman on 10/6/2008 12:17:04 PM , Rating: 2
...pumice is unsinkable, despite the fact that it is riddled with holes...

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By Rogie on 10/6/2008 1:42:33 PM , Rating: 2
Sir, I found that funny. My boss gave me the wtf look when I laughed.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By KashGarinn on 10/7/2008 5:33:58 AM , Rating: 1
Ah, to have such simple sense of humor... I don't know whether to sympathize or be jealous.

RE: I guess I'm "befuddled"
By TreeDude62 on 10/6/2008 11:16:56 AM , Rating: 2
I think it is all the people with Limewire downloading (insert hit pop song here).mp3.exe and not understanding that they just downloaded a virus.

Points of Infection
By GaryJohnson on 10/6/2008 11:09:04 AM , Rating: 2
There are two points of infection I normally see:

1. trojans in warez or freeware
2. webpages

The fix for #1 is: don't download stuff unless it's from an official, credible source.

The fix for #2 is: don't use a browser that lets webpages take over your PC *cough* IE5/6 *cough*

RE: Points of Infection
By majorpain on 10/6/2008 11:30:05 AM , Rating: 2
3- Use Linux for both! :D

RE: Points of Infection
By GaryJohnson on 10/6/2008 6:41:24 PM , Rating: 2
Right! The user who can't figure out windows will surely be able to understand linux.

The people that I see picking up malicious code through these infection points are the same people that have trouble with the whole single click / double click 'thing'.

RE: Points of Infection
By Pythias on 10/10/2008 7:41:49 AM , Rating: 3
Firefox + Noscript = WIN

Seems to me...
By TreeDude62 on 10/6/2008 10:33:13 AM , Rating: 2
Most people I know don't know jack about computers. They can turn it on, launch IE, and that is about it. I think the problem is lack of proper computer classes in school. We don't teach people how to actually maintain a PC.

I did not learn most of what I know now until I hit collage. Even then, most of my basics came from fellow students, not the teachers.

If you are not willing to teach people, they will never learn.

RE: Seems to me...
By Master Kenobi on 10/6/2008 11:03:27 AM , Rating: 3
But nobody wants to sit in a "Geek" class. Computers are still to this day socially problematic. Yes its extremely useful to have basic computer skills, kind of like being able to budget and keep track of a check boox / expense sheet. But very very few people will ever bother to learn it.

By Pirks on 10/6/2008 12:23:26 PM , Rating: 1
Proceed to the nearest Apple Store to be enlightened. Enlightement fee is likely to be in that famous "above $1k" range. Sorry.

By Oregonian2 on 10/6/2008 2:02:19 PM , Rating: 3
That donation will indeed (as show by recent "playoffs") leave you hole'ier than other religions.

Me too
By DXRick on 10/6/2008 1:56:43 PM , Rating: 2
I am a computer programmer and am fairly computer literate, but I don't really understand all of the threats either. I am running XP Pro with Norton Internet Security and Firefox 3.0.3, know enough to avoid phishing attempts, not trust links in emails, and to use good passwords on the sites I use. I don't download freeware or shareware.

It is the supposed threats that I might face while just surfing the net that baffle me. Cookies, scripts, trojans, and what else?

Hearing that NIS was weak with spyware, I bought Webroot Spy Sweeper but it never found anything, and I eventually deleted it.

Maybe I just don't go to questionable sites?

RE: Me too
By prenox on 10/7/2008 2:20:03 AM , Rating: 2
If your really worried about spyware through websites and your on Win XP you can get SandBoxie. It is what I have all my friends who don't want to make the jump to Vista use. As far as I know they still have not made a Vista version, but I don't really think there needs to be a Vista version if they don't disable UAC.

By frobizzle on 10/6/2008 10:25:32 AM , Rating: 3
Funny reading all those comments from Symantec's rep. I think that a big part of the problem is that the mainstream AV companies (Norton: McAffee) have turned their anti-virus software into such bloated pieces of crap that people don't want to bother with it.

By Hellfire27 on 10/6/2008 10:29:07 AM , Rating: 3
You can take care of all your internet security needs for FREE. That's what they should saying to people. Take five minutes out of you life and download these free programs so you don't have to worry anymore. For the home user, this is a no-brainer.

By Finnkc on 10/6/08, Rating: 0
RE: ya
By ShaolinSoccer on 10/6/08, Rating: 0
RE: ya
By mindless1 on 10/6/2008 5:30:18 PM , Rating: 2
It's about percentage of overweight people and how overweight they are. Certainly having lots of food available is part of it, as well as what that food is.

By Goty on 10/6/08, Rating: 0
RE: Yep.
By Goty on 10/7/2008 10:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
I got rated down? Are you people insinuating that the majority of Americans are intelligent?



By Mike Acker on 10/7/2008 8:18:36 AM , Rating: 2
I think most analysts will generally agree that the principle vehicle for the spread of malware is Social Engineering. Social Engineering is the art of tricking the user into activating the maleware installer.

those who have done some research on the topic will further be aware that 3d party software is also a favorite vehicle: if a defect or vulnerability can be found in some add-on software that a browser activates then it may be possible to get the malware installer from that add-on package to the user's system. possibly as a root-kit that allows the bot-net to maintain updated maleware on the user's computer.

cross-domain scripting has been used to make browsers read maleware from sites other than the site the user thinks he is reading and sql injection has been used to inject maleware into what the user would think are proper and respectable places

so if you think you can run around the 'net without a quality A/V subscription installed on your system,-- well-- all I'll say is :good luck; you'll need it.

All you need is Love
By FourPackandMore on 10/7/2008 11:24:32 AM , Rating: 2
I've seen some of the posts above which say they have had their PCs for 10-20 years and never suffered any infection. Those people are "safe surfers". And I am one too and I agree 100% with them.

If you treat your PC with Love, you'll be rewarded with no infection problems at all - my PC Love :

- Windows XP Firewall
- Netgear DG834G Wireless Router
- AVG Free (at home - AVG PRO at work)
- Spybot (I run it manually)
- Ad-Aware (I run it manually)
- The Ultimate Troubleshooter

With those I never have a problem, and my PC returns the love I've given it !


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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