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Vulnerabilities / Threats

Study: Many Consumers Still Untrained On Privacy Risks

Most consumers have not had security training, fail to stay up to date on privacy policies, Harris survey finds

Despite a high rate of concern about online threats, most consumers still do not pay much attention to their privacy settings in social media, and few have had any online security training, according to a study released Wednesday.

According to a Harris Interactive survey of more than 2,000 adults sponsored by security vendor ESET, consumers still have a lot of privacy learning to do.

More than half of consumers have not read the most recent privacy policy for their social media accounts, the survey says. About 20 percent of consumers have never made any changes to the default privacy settings in their social media accounts.

"This finding is worrying because of the very 'open' nature of most default social media settings, sometimes set by the social network operator to permit the widest possible use of your information," ESET says in a blog about the study. "It is hard to think that everyone who leaves the default settings in place is aware of the implications."

Only 27 percent of respondents has received any formal training in online security or privacy, according to the poll. "Given the level of threat activity reported to us, that 27% is a scary number," ESET says.

And the lack of security savvy is resulting in system compromises, according to the study. Some 28 percent of consumers said they have had at least one social media account hacked. More than 20 percent said they had encountered malware or links to malware on social networks. Ninety-one percent said they have received a suspicious electronic message in the last year -- about a third of consumers said they had seen a suspicious message in their social networks.

"In light of these numbers, it is not surprising that 86% of U.S. adults expressed concern about viruses and/or hackers when visiting their favorite websites," the blog says. "Sadly, only 35% of people felt that websites do a good job of screening or filtering out malicious code."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add a Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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