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Insights from 2023 Annual Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors Report

In today’s digitally interconnected era, cybersecurity is paramount. With technological progress comes evolving online threats, underscoring the critical need for vigilance.

Frequently, our own actions expose us to the highest risk of cyberattacks or online scams. Engaging in risky behaviors such as using weak passwords and adopting lax security measures, along with the mindset of “This won’t happen to me,” contribute to human error, responsible for roughly 88% of data breaches.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance and CybSafe collaborate to address inadequate cyber hygiene. Annually, they release a report on cybersecurity attitudes and behaviors with the aim of educating individuals and businesses on enhancing security in their digital environments.

In this year’s study, more than 6,000 individuals from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and New Zealand were surveyed. The questionnaire covered various aspects such as awareness of cybersecurity risks, adherence to security best practices, and encountered challenges.

The report unveils intriguing revelations about people’s perceptions of and responses to cyber threats, along with actionable steps to enhance their cybersecurity stance. Below are some notable findings from the report.

We Are Online… a Lot

It’s unsurprising that 93% of the study’s participants use the internet daily. The number of accounts we manage continues to grow, including those deemed “sensitive.” Sensitive accounts contain personal information that could be damaging if compromised.

Almost half (47%) of the survey respondents possess ten or more sensitive online accounts, heightening the risk, particularly when individuals use the same password for multiple accounts.

Source: The Annual Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors Report 2023

Online Security Makes People Frustrated

While the majority (84%) consider online security a priority, a significant portion (39%) express frustration, with a similar percentage feeling intimidated. It often appears challenging to stay ahead of hackers, with just over half of individuals believing they have control over digital security, leaving a considerable number who do not share this sentiment.

However, this isn’t a justification to lower your defenses and become an easy target. Implementing best practices can effectively safeguard your online accounts.

These include:

  • Enabling multi-factor authentication on your accounts
  • Using an email spam filter to catch phishing emails
  • Adding a DNS filter to block malicious websites
  • Using strong password best practices

People Need More Access to Cybersecurity Training

To mitigate human errors linked with cybersecurity, one approach is to provide training to individuals. According to the survey, only 26% of respondents reported having access to cybersecurity training.

The survey also examined this aspect based on employment status, revealing that individuals not currently employed are the most deficient in cybersecurity training. Moreover, even among those who are employed, there’s a notable need for increased access to and encouragement for training, with only 53% reporting having access to cybersecurity awareness training and utilizing it.

Source: The Annual Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors Report 2023

Employers have a substantial opportunity to diminish their susceptibility to data breaches by enhancing their security awareness training. Moreover, there is significant potential to offer additional training, especially to individuals who are retired or not currently employed.

Cybercrime Reporting Is Increasing

More than a quarter (27%) of survey participants reported being victims of cybercrime.

The types of cybercrimes reported include:

  • Phishing (47%)
  • Online dating scams (27%)
  • Identity theft (26%)

Millennials reported the highest number of cybercrime incidents, while Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation reported the lowest.

Source: The Annual Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors Report 2023

Regardless of your generational category, it is crucial to embrace security best practices. We will now delve into some of these practices.

Online Security Best Practices to Reduce Your Risk

1.Strong, Unique Passwords:

  • Start with the basics. Create strong, unique passwords for each online account.
  • Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters

2.Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

  • Enhance your account security with multi-factor authentication.
  • MFA adds an extra barrier to unauthorized access. Even for compromised passwords.

3. Regular Software Updates:

  • Keep all your software, including operating systems and mobile apps, up to date.

4. Beware of Phishing Attacks:

  • Exercise caution when clicking on links or opening attachments. Especially in emails from unknown sources.
  • Verify the legitimacy of emails and websites. Check for subtle signs, such as misspelled URLs or unfamiliar sender addresses.

5. Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks:

  • Ensure you connect to a secure and password-protected Wi-Fi network.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions. Unless using a virtual private network (VPN).

6. Data Backup:

  • Regularly back up important data to an external device or a secure cloud service.

7. Use Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software:

  • Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software on all devices.
  • Regularly scan your systems for potential threats.

8. Be Mindful of Social Media Settings:

  • Review and adjust your privacy settings on social media platforms.
  • Limit the amount of personal information visible to the public.

9. Secure Your Personal Devices:

  • Lock your devices with strong passwords or biometric authentication.

10. Educate and Stay Informed:

  • Educate yourself and your team through cybersecurity awareness programs. This fosters a culture of vigilance and preparedness.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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