Nearly 1-in-5 of Computers in U.S. Have No Security Protection

May 31, 2012

The good news is that just over 80% of the U.S. population has at least some security protection in place on their computers; the bad news is that 19.32% of computers in the U.S. still have no protection at all according to a new study by McAfee[i].

Among the countries tested, the US placed among the bottom 5  – with worse security protection rates than countries like China and India.

That’s grim news, but even worse was the study’s finding that 96% of tablets and smartphones lack security software in spite of these devices being fully capable computers storing sensitive personal and financial information. The lack of smartphone device security is exacerbated by the number of Android users who have installed “antivirus protection” yet the services they downloaded actually fail to provide any protection – learn more in my blog Most Users with Free Android Antivirus Scanners aren’t Protected.

With cybercrime rates skyrocketing what’s driving the security gap?

The lack of security protection on PC’s is not a cost issue. For less than a penny a day, consumers can be protected by strong security software

If consumers in countries with low average incomes like India and China can afford security software, so can Americans.

A few quick searches show steep discounts on 1-year subscriptions to for-pay security products with excellent reputations and broad security coverage:

  • A 50% discount offer on McAfee’s Internet Security Center 2012, making the cost just $39.99
  • A 55% discount offer on Norton’s Internet Security 2012, dropping the cost to $35.99
  • A 50% discount on TrendMicro’s Titanium security 2012, dropping the cost to $39.95
  • A 40% discount on AVG’s Internet Security 2012, dropping the cost to $32.99
  • A 50% discount on Kapersky’s Internet Security 2012, dropping the cost to $39.97
  • And so on.

 

If a penny a day is still too steep a price, there are good free alternatives. To find these products, search on the term “best free security software” or read PCMagazine’s February 2012 article The Best Free Antivirus for 2012.

 

If the lack of security protect isn’t due to cost, then it’s due to the lack of effective education

For those in the internet industry or internet safety education worlds, it feels like the message that every single computer and computing device must be protected has been talked and promoted to death. Apparently, it hasn’t been.

The data shows that we haven’t explained the personal and broader security risks to the 1-in-5 unprotected computer owners in a way they find compelling and motivates them to take action.

What are we missing? How is it that countries where far less has been spent educating consumers have more users leveraging protection software?

Have we not shown well enough the cause-and- effect between unsecured computers and identity theft, malware, spam, unusable computers, and so on?

Have we not helped consumers understand how easy it is to download and install security software?

Have we not explained how low cost (or free) the insurance premiums are for protecting computers?

As an industry, these are questions that must be answered if we are to succeed in creating a safer and more secure online environment – not just for the ~20% who aren’t leveraging these tools today, but for the entire internet ecosystem.

Ranking of Countries by Percentage of Consumers Unprotected

Ranking

Country Ranking by Percentage of

Consumers Unprotected

Percentage

1

          Singapore

21.75

2

          Mexico

21.57

3

          Spain

21.37

4

          Japan

19.35

5

          US

19.32

6

          China

18.02

7

          Canada

17.92

8

          Ireland

17.57

9

          Korea

17.55

10

          India

17.32

11

          Philippines

17.12

12

          Sweden

16.92

13

          Malaysia

16.77

14

          UK

16.5

15

          Norway

15.72

          Australia

15.72

16

          Netherlands

15.7

          Brazil

15.7

17

          France

15.17

18

          Denmark

14.9

19

          New Zealand

14.77

20

          Germany

14.47

21

          Italy

13.8

22

          Finland

9.67

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(No Anti-Virus istalled or the software was installed, but disabled) Source: McAfee

Linda


[i] The McAfee study was conducted in 24 countries, and analyzed data from 27-28 million PCs each month, to determine a global estimate of the number of consumers who have basic security software.


Bill of Rights for Social Networkers [Infographic]

May 23, 2012

A new infographic by BackgroundCheck does an excellent job of highlighting the issues surrounding requests for access to personal social networking sites by employers, would-be employers, government agencies, law enforcement, colleges and other groups.   Check it out:

Social Networking Bill of Rights

Linda


Frustrated by CAPCHA’s with wavy, pale, weird or unintelligible characters? Now, there’s hope!

May 14, 2012

You’ve seen CAPCHA’S – Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart – on plenty of websites, the words are scrambled, twisted, wavy, or embellished with lines, wiggles , (even overlaid  with images of cats), and are designed to be decipherable by humans, yet block automated programs from getting into websites.

The problem is that all too often they’re NOT decipherable. You’ve probably cursed the darn things on numerous occasions as you fail – repeatedly – to figure out the characters and are presented with a new set of largely indecipherable options.

If you’re among the millions frustrated with wiggles and dots, take heart. I’ve recently seen very cool security checks that allow you to pass the ‘human’ test by applying basic logic. AMEN!

In the example shown below, users are asked to identify a number in a sequence based on instructions, and it was such a pleasant experience that I’m recommending companies switch methods. The key is to have infinite number of variables, some spelled, some shown numerically so a automated system can’t simply recognize a few options.

Is it possible an advanced scripted program could figure out the logic? Probably. But there are additional tests that can be performed to identify non-humans by their interactions on a site, and that don’t put humans through visual contortions.

Whoever thought of this alternative is brilliant.

Linda


STOP THE TEXTS. STOP THE WRECKS. An Important New Campaign

May 1, 2012

Today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council have launched a new campaign to discourage teens – and all drivers – from texting while driving. This campaign, and those like it, are vital elements in reducing the number of tragic deaths and injuries caused by distracted drivers.

However, campaigns alone will not solve the problem. Stiffer fines, laws, and penalties will not alone solve the problem. What we need is a cultural shift making texting while driving an unacceptable behavior, and for that to happen every single person has a clear role to play. Please play your role.

Here are some of the resources made available to consumers through this STOP THE TEXTS. STOP THE WRECKS. campaign:

  • Facts sheet – with 30 sobering facts, here’s a sample
  • Survey results
  • Videos – 4 videos that help illustrate how quickly distraction leads to disaster
  • Infographic – see below

This campaign has partnered with the U.S Department of Transportation who created the excellent Distraction.gov materials.

 

Also check out the following blogs:

 

 

Linda


9 Tips for Staying Secure Online – Infographic

May 1, 2012

This infographic by ReversePhoneLookup.org has some great data points – including the sobering stat that 16% of consumers who create passwords still use a person’s first name – but I especially like their 9 tips for staying secure online.

Check it out:

Online Security

Linda


The Real Woes for Apple Security Begin – 1 in 5 Mac Computers Now Carries Malware‏

April 25, 2012

At the start of the month, in what was the largest attack on the Apple OS to date, a beleaguered Apple released two security patches to address flaws in their Java code that had enabled malware to infect over 600,000 computers.  According to Symantec, in just 2 weeks consumers downloading the security patches dropped the number of infected computers from 600,000 to 140,000, where it seems to have stagnated. Symantec urges consumers that suspect their Mac has been infected with OSX.Flashback.K, to install the latest patches, and ensure that your antivirus is up to date.

But the problem doesn’t end there as a new variant has sprung up. Sound familiar? It should. Apple has grown in relevance to now face the same frustrations as the Windows platform – fix a hole and watch hackers find a new angle.

On April 23rd, the New York Times reported that “researchers at Intego, another computer security firm, discovered that a new variant of the malware, called Flashback.S, continued to spread through the same Java vulnerability. Security researchers said the variant was “actively being distributed in the wild” and noted that the malware deletes traces of itself on victims’ machines to avoid detection.

Today (April 24th) the Wall Street Journal reported that security firm Sophos released new research that analyzed “100,000 Mac computers running its free anti-virus software, and discovered that one in five machines was found to be carrying one or more instances of Windows malware.” And that “2.7 percent (one in thirty six) of Macs were found to be carrying Mac OS X malware.”

The Journal article included comments from Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, who said “Some Mac users may be relieved that they are seven times more likely to have Windows viruses, spyware and Trojans on their Macs than Mac OS X-specific malware, but Mac malware is surprisingly commonly encountered. Mac users need a wake-up call about the growing malware problem.”

“The simple fact is that you can scan your Mac for infection from your armchair. The test is painless and free; you just download an anti-virus product and allow it to check your computer and protect it against infections in the future,” explained Cluley.

At the end of the day the question is this, will Mac users be any better than Windows users at securing their devices with anti-malware tools?

Linda


Flashback Trojan has Infected Over 600,000 Macs

April 19, 2012

This week Apple patched a flaw in their Java code to prevent Macs from becoming infected with the Flashback Trojan – a malicious program that steals infected users’ user names and passwords, and has continued to evolve to exploit other elements.

Unfortunately, the malware has run rampant the last two months – when the malware was first detected. The Russian antivirus company, Dr. Web, reports that over 600,000 Mac’s are infected – and that 56% of the infected Macs are in the hands of U.S. consumers.

A ZDNet article includes these links for Mac users to get “the new version of Java that patches the security hole in question from Apple here: Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7 and Java for OS X Lion 2012-001. Additionally, F-Secure has instructions on how to remove this malware if you think your Mac may already be infected.”

If you are among the Mac users who have clung to the belief that Macs don’t need strong malware protection, let this be a wakeup call.

Linda


New Online Safety Lesson: Texting and Driving Don’t Mix

April 19, 2012

The 15th installment in the lesson series I’m writing on behalf of iKeepSafe, looks at distracted driving. Would you let someone cover your eyes for two seconds while you were driving? No way.

But teens will be surprised to learn that if they are on the freeway going 65 mph, a quick two-second glance to read a text means they have driven nearly two-thirds of a football field without looking. And those precious seconds can kill them, their passengers or the people in other vehicles.

More than 3,000 people died, and thousands more were injured, due to distracted driving in 2010 alone.

This lesson discusses eye-opening statistics on the perils of distracted driving and alerts teens to the hazards of looking away from the road, plus offers tips for avoiding the temptation of phone use while driving.

To see and use this lesson, the companion presentation, professional development materials, and parent tips click here: TXT + DRV = Total Fail.

Linda


It’s Official, Half of Cell Phones in U.S. Are Now Smartphones

April 16, 2012

New data from Nielsen shows that half (49.7%) of U.S. mobile subscribers have converted to smartphones, a 38% increase over February 2011, when only 36% of mobile subscribers used smartphones.

Nielsen’s research also shows that Android remains the leading cell phone platform with 48% of the U.S. smartphone market, followed by 32.1% who use an Apple iPhone, and 11.6% who remain Blackberry owners.

Up until last week, I was among the diehard Blackberry users, but I’ve purchased an iPhone and will never look back.

As a further indication of the imminent demise of Blackberry, their stock has plummeted.

Among consumers who acquired their smartphone within the last three months, 48% surveyed said they chose an Android and 43% bought an iPhone.

Not only was Blackberry absent, so was any mention of Windows phones.

In the now two-horse race, the rising frustration by developers and users of the Android platform indicates their market lead over Apple is far from assured. From a safety perspective, choosing Apple and Apple apps is the best bet.

Linda


Gang Members Charged with Recruiting Teens Online for Prostitution

April 15, 2012

A new criminal case brings back into focus the role of the internet in gang activities as 5 members of the gang set ‘Underground Gangster Crips’ have been charged with sex-trafficking underage girls. The Crips is a massive gang with over 35,000 members organized into an estimated 800 individual gangs or “sets” in more than 30 states and 120 cities.

Court documents say the gang members recruited teen girls through Facebook, DateHookUp.com, in schools, and on Metro busses. In the course of pimping and trafficking these girls, the court records charge these gang members transported them across at least 4 states.  If convicted, each could serve life in prison.

Gangs have been leveraging the internet’s power to glamorize gang life, recruit, coordinate, commit crimes, and brag about their crimes, for many years. To learn more about gangs internet use and prostitution/human trafficking see my extensive coverage in these blogs: 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment – Emerging Trends and The Internet,   Gangs use of the Internet and Cell Phones  and Human trafficking Top Initiative for Incoming NAAG President Rob McKenna

According to court documents, in this most recent case just outside of D.C. if the girls tried to quit, they were threatened and subjected to violent and frequent beatings and threats. The ring leader, Justin Strom, 26, allegedly choked one girl when she said she no longer wanted to engage in prostitution.

The affidavit shows that in another occurrence, Strom made a 17-year-old girl use cocaine, cut her on the arm with a knife and then forced her to have sex with him. The girl was

The gang members charged allegedly recruited at least 10 girls – most of whom are 15 and 16-years-old – over the last three years often telling the girls they were pretty and could make money by having sex with men. Many girls were required to have sex with gang members as an “initiation”. The girls allegedly would share the proceeds with the gang — sometimes $50 or $100 per customer — afterwards gang members would supply the girls with drugs and party with them, according to court records.then taken to an apartment, where she was forced to have sex with 14 other men. Strom allegedly collected $1,000 that night. Sometimes, girls were forced to go door-to-door soliciting men for sex. Two gang members drove her home, and according to the affidavit she was told she “got what she had coming” and that if she told anyone they would “come back and kill her.”

These arrests add to a string of prostitution and trafficking charges against gangs in the D.C. area; Members of the gang Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, also have been accused in federal court in Virginia of prostitution-related charges involving juvenile victims.

The Underground Gangster Crips have a long and violent history in Fairfax County, allegedly committing rapes, armed robbery and selling drugs, according to court documents.

Speaking about the case, U.S. Attorney Neil H. McBride said “The sex trafficking of young girls is an unconscionable crime involving unspeakable trauma. These gang members are alleged to have lured many area high school girls in the vile world of prostitution, and used violence and threats to keep them working as indentured sex slaves.”

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II described the case as “every parent’s worst nightmare,” adding that it showed human trafficking can happen anywhere and is “a very real danger here in Virginia. By working together with U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride and our law enforcement partners, we will send a swift and strong message that this criminal behavior will not be tolerated in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Learn more in my posts Child Trafficking and the Internet and ‘Women to Go’ Shop Drives Trafficking Awareness in Israel; What You Can do in Your Community.

The sexual exploitation of women and children by gangs and other criminals isn’t just a problem in D.C., or L.A. or Chicago. The sexual exploitation of women and children as a revenue stream is occurring in towns and cities across the country. And every single decent person has a role to play – you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution when it comes to identifying and reporting the exploitation of women and children.

To get involved in the campaign against human trafficking, you can find more information and organizations in your area by searching online for human trafficking and your region. If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, or you yourself are a victim, get help by calling the Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888. Or Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s hotline 1-800-THE-LOST.

Location of the NCMEC posters:

Linda


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