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Many PC Users Remain Unaware of Security, Privacy

More than a tenth of users don't know whether they have an antivirus, firewall; majority don't know what privacy settings they're using

Despite front-page news about email hacks and identity theft, many consumers still don't know what security measures are available on the PCs they use, according to study released today.

A survey conducted by Steganos, a provider of privacy software found that an alarmingly high proportion of users did not know what software was running on their computers to ensure they had adequate protection from hackers, malware, viruses, and other online threats.

More than one tenth of respondents (13 percent) said they did not have any antivirus software installed on their machines at all, while a further 9 percent did not know if antivirus was installed, Steganos says. Almost one fifth of respondents (19 percent) did not know if they had firewalls installed.

Three fifths of the respondents (60 percent) did not have privacy software installed, and another 25 percent did not know whether they did or not, according to the survey. When asked if they knew what the privacy settings were on their browser, over half (52 percent) of respondents admitted they didn’t know.

And it appears that most of these users don't know what they don't know. When asked if they thought the privacy of information stored on their computers was adequate, 46 percent said they thought they had adequate protection for their online data and security.

The good news: The survey showed that some consumers are aware of online dangers and have installed antivirus, anti-spam, firewall, and privacy software. A number of users were also using encryption software, the report says.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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