97% of Americans Can’t Ace a Basic Security Test

Still, a new Google study uncovers a bit of good news, too.

The majority of people believe they are more proficient in online security than they actually are.

According to a March study of more than 2,000 US adults conducted by the Harris Poll for Google, while 55% of Americans 16 years and above give themselves an A or a B in online security, 97% got at least one question wrong on a basic, six-question security test. The test asked people to identity whether links without https were OK or to identify links with bad characters.

"On a more positive note, website growth is on the rise, with 48% saying they plan to create a website in the future," says Stephanie Duchesneau, program manager of the Google Registry. "That's a doubling of the number of online creators, which is a good sign."

Frank Dickson, research vice president at IDC who focuses on security, says while there's certainly a disconnect, he was surprised by the growth in new creators.

"I think the fact that 20% have created a website and 48% plan to create one bodes well," he says. "After all, people don’t just create websites for work. I've created websites for my son's baseball team, so people create websites for all kinds of activities outside of work."

Also on the plus side: Eighty-nine out of the top 100 websites default to https. In addition, 93% of Chrome traffic on Macs is encrypted, while 90% of Windows traffic on Chrome is encrypted. As far as how people plan to use websites in the future, 45% say for a business, 43% for a hobby, and 40% for personal reasons.

Still, there's more to do given 42% didn't realize there was a difference in the security level between a website that uses https and one that doesn't. In fact, 29% of Americans ages 16 or older don't check to see whether there was an "s" on a site URL, even after being told that it means a secure connection. In addition, 64% didn't realize they could be redirected to a website without their knowledge, even if the website has an https address.

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Jeffrey Schwartz, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading