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Study: Users Have False Sense of Security

Over 90% think they're pretty safe on the Internet, but about half of them are at risk, Verizon says

Despite almost daily reports of security breaches and identity theft, most end users still think their systems are pretty safe. But they're wrong, according to study results released last week by Verizon.

Working with research firm iTracks, Verizon asked 545 end users how secure their systems were from common threats such as viruses and spyware. Some 92 percent said they felt "safe" or "somewhat safe," and many of them cited the presence of antivirus or anti-spyware tools as a key reason.

Verizon then conducted a vulnerability assessment of the respondents and found that 58 percent of them were at risk of harboring spyware and 45 percent were at risk of contracting viruses.

"Internet security protection is like a smoke alarm," said Bill Heilig, vice president for Verizon broadband services. "As long as it works, it's great. But with a dead battery, it's worse than no smoke alarm at all, because it creates a false sense of security. That's the position that most Internet consumers find themselves in today, and what they don't know is definitely hurting them."

About 19 percent of the respondents had turned their personal firewalls off, Verizon said.

The study is part of Verizon's effort to promote its new Verizon Security Advisor service, which offers a free security assessment to end users.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

  • Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)