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


Country Ranking by Percentage of

Consumers Unprotected





























































          New Zealand
























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


[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.

Most Users with Free Android Antivirus Scanners aren’t Protected

November 30, 2011

Many free AV apps exist for the Android market but new comparisons by AV-TEST, a globally recognized security institute out of Germany, uncovered sobering security failures when they took the AV products through their paces.

The products to come out best were for-pay services from “Kaspersky and F-Secure, which detected at least 50% of all malware samples already in inactive state.”

Among the free options “Zoner AntiVirus Free was best with 32% detected malicious apps. All other scanners detected at best 10% of the apps; some didn’t detect anything at all.” Commenting on the results AV-Test said, ‘the circulation of obviously near to useless security apps endangers those, who trust them.’

AV-TEST’s test results are shocking, particularly as the advice given by security experts is that all smartphone users need anti-malware software in place. Yet those who diligently installed one of these free programs, has an entirely false sense of security.

The program with the lion’s share of installations is Antivirus Free by Creative Apps who, along with GuardX Antivirus and LabMSF Antivirus beta, failed to identify any malware in either the manual or real-time on installation scan.

Not only should these ineffectual products be purged from the Android market, there should be a howl of protest from consumers insisting that apps claiming to protect consumers actually do so – and be required to show how well they protect in their descriptions.

Below are two tables from the research, click here to read the entire report.


Are You Sure Your PC is Malware Free??

May 15, 2011

If you aren’t sure you have anti-virus or other anti-malware software protecting your computer, or if you aren’t sure these tools are up-to-date or effective, there’s a 5 click way to find out. Your time commitment? Less than 7 seconds. Less time than it has taken you to read this blog this far.

For 90% of computer users, some version of Windows is your operating system.  If you aren’t a Windows user, you can stop reading here because unfortunately this solution won’t help you, I’ll try to give you tips in a later blog.


BUT… if you are among the 90% using Windows, take 7 seconds to:

  1. Log onto Microsoft’s Security Scanner page, either from this link or from the security newsletter Microsoft sent out earlier this month. (3 seconds)
  2. Click on the big Download Now button. (1 second)
  3. Select your download version (1 second)
  4. Accept license terms (1 second)
  5. Select a full scan of your computer (1 second)

Now relax and let the scanner do its work. When done, it will tell you if your computer has a clean bill of health, or if you need to do something to clean it.

One tip: Running the scanner takes time, you may want to start this before going to bed, or before stepping away from the computer for a while so it doesn’t slow you down while working.


Because spyware never sleeps…

August 31, 2010

Linda Criddle, President of the Safe Internet Alliance, and LOOKBOTHWAYS Inc., was recently interviewed for the article Because spyware never sleeps… by Problem Solvers Jon Yates and Kristin Samuelson of the Chicago Tribune.


But fear not, there is a growing arsenal of anti-virus weapons at your disposal.

Linda Criddle, a technology expert and the author of several Internet safety books, says the question for computer users isn’t if you should install anti-virus software — but rather which one.

“You can’t live without it,” Criddle said. “It’s that flat-out simple.”

All anti-virus programs combat two types of intrusions: spyware and malware. Spyware is any type of software that infiltrates your computer without your consent, then monitors or controls your activities. Malware, short for malicious software, is specifically designed to steal your personal information, send spam and commit fraud.

Without anti-virus software in place to combat spyware and malware, your computer can be compromised in the blink of an eye.

“A brand new computer will be infected with malware within four minutes,” Criddle said. “It could be using your computer as a source to infect others with anything…The people writing malicious software are businessmen. They’re out there to make money.”

So which anti-virus software should you use? There are plenty of options out there, many of which are free.

Criddle suggests Googling “best free anti-virus software” and reviewing the list of free programs to compare which features are best suited for you. Choose one that updates automatically and gets good reviews from other users.

Although free anti-virus software can protect your computer, many of the free programs take more work on your part.

Popular anti-virus software from Norton, McAfee, Microsoft Defender and others cost money — but they’re generally more advanced and easier to use, Criddle said.

Among the free versions, Criddle recommends a version by AVG, which can be found at here.

Even with an anti-virus program installed, both Bolish and Criddle recommend being careful when cruising the Internet.

Avoid websites you don’t know and trust. Never click on pop-ups, and be selective about what you choose to download online.

Click here to read the full article.