Netsparker Cybersecurity Survey: 80 Percent of Americans at Risk

Press Release | Data reveals that a fifth of Americans don’t regularly update their computer & smartphone software. 45% fail to update smart home devices

Data reveals that a fifth of Americans don’t regularly update their computer or smartphone software, and 45 percent fail to update smart home devices London—December 14, 2017—Netsparker Ltd., a leading player in the web applications security industry, has today released the results of its 2017 Cybersecurity Survey. The survey of 2,006 U.S. adults, conducted online by Propeller Insights on behalf Netsparker in November 2017, found that most Americans leave themselves open to cyber attack, that Americans love IoT even if it poses a heightened security risk, and that a third of Americans would hold the maker of a device responsible if a hack occurred, even if outdated software was the cause.

Americans at Risk of Cybersecurity Attack

When it comes to cybersecurity, fully 80 percent of Americans admit to behaviors that put them at risk. The most common offenses are:
  • Using open, unsecured Wi-Fi networks — 40 percent
  • Clicking on unfamiliar links on social media — 35 percent
  • Downloading files from third-party sources — 31 percent
  • Opening email attachments from unknown sources — 31 percent
  • Failing to install good web-based security software — 28 percent
Additionally, more than a third (34 percent) admit to using the same password for all logins and using weak passwords (33 percent). Fifty-eight percent of Americans use fewer than four passwords for all of their online logins; 15 percent say they are constantly forgetting and resetting their passwords. While Americans may engage in risky behaviors, they also do take measures to protect themselves, which include:
  • Trying to avoid open, unsecured Wi-Fi networks — 40 percent
  • Turning off location services from their phone and other devices — 38 percent
Americans would be most concerned if their email  (57 percent), computer files (40 percent) or browsing history (30 percent) were hacked.

Consumer Perceptions of IoT and Web Application Security

When asked which technologies Americans believe are most susceptible to hacking, IoT devices (45 percent) ranked second only to web applications and online services (53 percent). Other connected technologies also ranked high:
  • ATMs — 45 percent
  • Smart TVs — 35 percent
  • Connected cars — 32 percent
  • Artificial intelligence — 26 percent
  • Medical devices — 22 percent
When it comes to smart home devices, more than a fifth of Americans (21 percent) never update them, and an additional quarter (25 percent) don’t realize their smart devices need to be updated. But Americans love IoT devices. Even if they knew IoT devices were at higher risk for cyber attack, only one in five (21 percent) would eliminate all IoT devices from their home. The other 78 percent would continue to use IoT devices—some with more care and others limiting their children’s access.

When Hacks Happen

Outdated software has been the cause of many large-scale hacks, most recently the Equifax security breach. The survey revealed that, unfortunately, Americans are exposing themselves to these same vulnerabilities. Just over a third of Americans (34 percent) update their computer’s operating system when prompted, but 22 percent don’t realize they’re supposed to update their operating systems, procrastinate updating, or simply never do it. Another 7 percent only update yearly. Similarly, 40 percent of Americans update their smartphones when prompted, but 19 percent don’t know they’re supposed to update, procrastinate updating, or simply never do it. When hacks do happen because of outdated software, about half (53 percent) of Americans feel the device owner is responsible, but a third (33 percent) feel it is the fault of the device maker, and a fifth (21 percent) feel it is the fault of the third-party security provider. “There are many simple steps that Americans can take to protect themselves against data hacks,” said Ferruh Mavituna, founder and CEO of Netsparker. “Implementing stronger passwords and keeping software updated are two obvious ways. Security scanning is another. Data hacks are the threat that define our age, and consumers must be proactive about keeping their sensitive information safe.” For more information, see the consumer survey results.

About Netsparker Ltd.

Netsparker was founded in 2009 and develops a web application security scanner. The scanner’s accurate scanning technology led to early success, and Netsparker is now a recognized leader in the web application security industry. Netsparker can identify vulnerabilities in any type of modern and custom web applications, regardless of the architecture or platform they are built with. Upon identifying a vulnerability, the Netsparker scanner uniquely generates a proof of exploit to identify a false positive. Netsparker is available as desktop software and as a cloud service. It is trusted and used by world-renowned organizations from all industry verticals, including Samsung, NASA, Microsoft, ING Bank and Ernst & Young. Media Contact Laura Ruark 540.599.7886