Friday, January 24, 2014

Consumer Reports on Smart Phone safety, Malware, and Phishing

Every year Consumer Reports does a "State of the Net" survey. I've found it to consistently be one of the most interesting and accurate measures of what's going on with regards to Computer Safety for the average American Computer user. Jeff Fox of Consumer Reports and I have spoken in the past about the great program that he's been running for many years. (We first met at an October 1st launch of Cyber Security Awareness Month at the National Press Club). I somehow failed to report on their 2013 report, so I'm catching up now.

This was based on their January 2013 survey, covering experiences for American consumers in 2012. Hopefully we'll have the next year of data in a couple months (it is usually published in their June issue.

Their Lead Article was on Smart Phone security, which found:

  • Half of all American homes have a Cell phone
  • 7.1 Million had their phone Lost, Stolen, or Broken beyond Repair
  • 69% of Americans don't back up their smart phones
  • 64% do not use a password or screen lock!
  • Only 8% use "Remote Wipe", 22% use a "Phone Finder", and 15% use Anti-virus
How well do Consumer Reports survey respondents and you protect mobile phone data?
"Click to see Consumer Reports InfoGraphic"

So much great content in their survey . . .

This article -- How Safe is your Home Computer? found:

  • 43% report being afflicted by "Heavy Spam"

    I really want to call attention to that number, because so many of my computer security friends are calling spam a "solved problem". That is ABSOLUTELY NOT the experience of the average American. Perhaps companies using the best state of the art technology are experiencing reduced volumes of spam, but 43% of Americans report they are still experiencing "Heavy Spam!"

  • 9.8 Million adults had Facebook trouble

    Either accounts taken over by an unauthorized person, had their reputation harmed, or were harassed, threatened, or defrauded.

  • 58.2 Million users had Malware issues

    to an extent that their computer's features or performance were impacted, costing $3.9 Billion in direct repairs and clean-up costs. 5% of them had to take their computer to a third party to have it repaired! I especially like the way that Consumer Reports asks this question. We know that Symantec says 18 computers are infected by new malware EVERY SECOND with a global cost of $110 Billion per year, but the question CR asks here is "How many of those infections actually lead to a real problem for the consumers?"

  • 9.2 million gave up personal data on Phishing sites

    Hundreds of thousands actually lost money from a bank account as a result. Among the big-name companies whose names successful phishers used most often, according to Consumer Reports: Bank of America, Chase, Facebook, PayPal, and Visa.

This article -- Protect Credit Cards from Scams mentions that their survey found:

  • Nearly 20 million credit-card fraud victims

    19.5 million consumers with Unauthorized charges on their cards

    CR Tip to Protect yourself: Report fraudulent charges immediately. If credit was used instead of debit on a bank card, you're probably liable for up to only $50. (That limit doesn't apply to debit charges.)

  • Lost, hijacked, stolen

    18.4 million consumers were notified by Companies, government agencies, or other organizations that their personal info had been lost, hijacked, or stolen.

    CR Tip to Protect yourself: If notified of a data breach, use the free credit monitoring that's usually offered. Add a fraud alert to your credit reports. Close affected accounts and change passwords on others. Check for incorrect charges or withdrawals after the breach.

  • Personal data compromised

    10 million consumers lost money from an account (other than credit card), had personal data used for a fraudulent purpose, or had a new credit account opened in their name by an unauthorized person.

    CR Tip to Protect yourself: Don't click on links or open attachments in e-mail purporting to be from government agencies. Have your bank alert you to possible fraudulent activity.

Great work, as usual, Consumer Reports! Please keep it up!

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