Top Ten Dangerous Internet User Behaviors

Tuesday, July 26, 2011



ZDNet's Ellyne Phneah has an informative writeup regarding the ten most dangerous online behaviors internet users engage in on an all too regular basis.

The article points to a Symantec study that reveals that the majority of web users actively engage in taboo behaviors event when they are aware that the activity may put them at risk of malware infection, identity theft, fraud and other nasty outcomes.

The underlying cause of these behaviors cited in the article: convenience trumping security.

Call it laziness, or perhaps an unjustified feeling of immunity - the "that will never happen to me" syndrome. Ether way, all the efforts of security experts and vendors are regularly being undone by the risky actions of end-users, and the cyber crooks are capitalizing on this fact.

A summary of Phneah's top ten list is as follows:

1. Sharing too much information

Most users, particularly younger ones, provide their personal details, emotional sensitivities, location and other intimate information "readily and jubilantly", observed John Ong. These details could be easily exploited by online stalkers and fraudsters, the regional director for South Asia at Check Point Software Technologies said in an e-mail.

2. Trusting company Web sites to protect your information

Alvin Ow, technology consulting director of RSA Asia-Pacific and Japan, pointed out in an e-mail that one of the most common assumptions consumers make is that their data is secured by the company handling the information. Consumers, however, need to protect their information as they are the ultimate owners of the data, he urged.

3. Assuming Web links are safe to click on

Citing the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report Volume 16, Hall noted that cybercriminals used social networks to post shortened links to malicious Web sites so that the true destination was hidden from users. The report further observed that 73 percent of users clicked on these malicious links in news feeds.

4. Not educating themselves enough

According to Check Point's Ong, Singaporeans in particular tend to be trusting due to the safe, physical environment they grew up in, but this mindset is unsuitable on the Web where fraudsters and dangerous criminals may lurk.

5. Not updating antivirus and malware protection

Pilao observed that many consumers in the Asia-Pacific region were early adapters of new software, technology or social media and often "bypass security", choosing the easy way to "navigate technology". Users must not neglect security, she advised, adding that regular antivirus and malware protection scans should be run.

6. Thinking that malware is seasonal

Pilao also reminded that "malware works 24/7 globally", although they may be more prevalent during holidays and special occasions.

7. Engaging in piracy

Users in the Southeast Asian region continue to engage in illegitimate content consumption as people still prefer "going for the fast and cheap, and are not conscious of the security risks", Pilao noted.

8. Same password for multiple sites

Ow named using one password to access multiple social media, e-mail and online transaction sites as well as to access personal data online, as a common mistake made by users worldwide. Having different passwords for different accounts is important because if one account is compromised, the others would not be, he explained

9. Not bailing out of unsafe Web sites during transactions

The Symantec survey "People Know Online Risks But Often Ignore Them" also found that only 75 percent of respondents abandoned online transactions because they felt the Web site was not secure.

10. No sense of urgency

The Symantec survey also illustrated that only 17 percent were somewhat concerned when it comes to keeping confidential data safe when shopping or banking online, while 5 percent of respondents had no idea what phishing attacks were.

For the complete details and further commentary by industry experts on these risky behaviors, see Phneah's complete article at ZDNet here:


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