Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

Survey Shows Florida at the Bottom for Consumer Cybersecurity

A new survey shows that residents of the Sunshine State engage in more risky behavior than their counterparts in the other 49 states.

Some states are more dangerous, from a cybersecurity standpoint, than others. That's the conclusion of a new report by the Ponemon Institute that ranks each state based on the risks to its citizens and points a finger squarely at Florida as the home of riskiest behavior.

The report, "The Cyber Hygiene Index: Measuring the Riskiest States," is based on a survey of 4,290 consumers across all 50 states. Ponemon Institute queried survey participants on a variety of different behaviors and used their responses to create a Cyber Hygiene Index for each state.

Cyber Hygiene Index numbers range from a theoretical high of +37 to a theoretical low of -37. In actuality, state scores ranged from +4.29 to -6.29. The low mark, which was considerably worse than the next-lowest of 5.55 belongs to Florida. The best? New Hampshire.

[Author's Note: In the spirit of full transparency, I note that I'm an intentional resident of Florida. Between alligators, hurricanes, tourists, and now cybersecurity-incompetence, it's astounding that any of us survive the experience.]

According to the report sponsored by Webroot, Floridians are particularly fond of sharing passwords: 72% say that they share at least some credentials with others compared with 64% in the general population who say they engage in at least some password sharing. Combined with previous reports showing that more than half of users reuse passwords, this becomes very risky behavior, indeed.

The fact that password sharing is common highlights one of the basic facts of cybersecurity: that years of education and awareness campaigns have not made an enormous difference in general user behavior.

One particularly telling response came when survey participants were presented with a list of good cyber-hygiene habits. The list included such commonly taught practices as backing up data, checking URLs before clicking them, and frequently updating passwords.

Only backing up data had a positive response rate: 51% say that they back up their data. No other activity was claimed by even one-third of those responding and some, like "have a different password for each account" were chosen by as few as 9% of respondents nationwide.

And the cyber-hygiene issues don't stop at the Florida-Georgia line. In a survey of individual cities and their level of cybersecurity, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Charlotte ranked as least secure (with four Florida metro areas in the top 10). The most secure metropolitan areas? Richmond/Petersburg, Va., Greensboro/Winston-Salem, N.C., Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News, Va., Seattle/Tacoma, Wash., and St. Louis.

Some might leap to the conclusion that older consumers are less able to protect their computers than their young counterparts, but the survey indicates that 75% of those under 30 have cybersecurity practices that carry more risk than those of older respondents. The message of the survey seems simple: Americans, on the whole, are terrible at cybersecurity. Some Americans are just worse than others.

All of this matters to enterprise security professionals because these consumers are also employees. In 2016, 43% of employed Americans said that they spent at least some time working away from the office. That number is unlikely to have declined in the last 18 months, which makes risky security behavior something that nearly all IT security professionals must deal with.

Enterprise IT security professionals must also deal with the consequences of consumer insecurity. Stolen identities are a leading resource in financial fraud, and poor computer behavior and hygiene are leading sources of stolen identities.

Related content:

 

Top industry experts will offer a range of information and insight on who the bad guys are – and why they might be targeting your enterprise. Click for more information

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
6/22/2018 | 6:04:49 PM
Confidence issues
I took a close look at this study, and I find its claims about Florida (and other states) sensationalized if not a little downright doubtful. The enormous swing in sample-to-population ratios among each state demonstrate that findings on states like Florida, while perhaps demonstrating some degree of in-a-vacuum accuracy, possess far less statistical confidence and power when performing state-by-state comparisons where similarly sized samples from far smaller states are concerned.

I delved into this subject more for an Informa-family sister site here: securitynow.com/author.asp?section_id=706&doc_id=743966
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-3154
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
CRLF injection vulnerability in Zend\Mail (Zend_Mail) in Zend Framework before 1.12.12, 2.x before 2.3.8, and 2.4.x before 2.4.1 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTTP headers and conduct HTTP response splitting attacks via CRLF sequences in the header of an email.
CVE-2019-17190
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
A Local Privilege Escalation issue was discovered in Avast Secure Browser 76.0.1659.101. The vulnerability is due to an insecure ACL set by the AvastBrowserUpdate.exe (which is running as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM) when AvastSecureBrowser.exe checks for new updates. When the update check is triggered, the...
CVE-2014-8161
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive column values by triggering constraint violation and then reading the error message.
CVE-2014-9481
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The Scribunto extension for MediaWiki allows remote attackers to obtain the rollback token and possibly other sensitive information via a crafted module, related to unstripping special page HTML.
CVE-2015-0241
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The to_char function in PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a (1) large number of digits when processing a numeric ...