Some 35% of security experts say installing software updates is one of their top security practices, while 42% of non-experts say running antivirus software is one of the top three ways to stay safe online, according to a Google research.
Most experts said they install software updates (35%) and use unique passwords (25%) two-factor authentication (20%) strong passwords (19%) and a password manager (12%). Non-experts mentioned using antivirus software (42%), strong passwords (31%), changing passwords frequently (21%), visiting only known websites (21%) and not sharing personal information (17%).
When asked if they use antivirus software on their personal computers, 85% of non-experts reported doing so – compared to the 63% of experts who said they do. The high adoption rate of antivirus software among non-experts might be due to the usability of the install-once type of solution that antivirus software offers.
Similar to running antivirus, firewalls were also popular among non-experts. Although only 3% of the experts mentioned using a firewall among the top three, 17% of non-experts mentioned them, often in conjunction with antivirus software. While experts acknowledged the usability of antivirus software, some also cautioned that antivirus is not bulletproof. Several experts said the need to run antivirus depends on the operating system.
Non-experts reported being reluctant to promptly install software updates, due to lack of understanding of their effectiveness or bad past experiences with software updates. Though using them was considered good advice by experts, password managers were regarded with skepticism by non-experts, who instead preferred to remember passwords, partly because, as one participant said, “no one can hack my mind.” According to Google, 73% of security experts use a password manager, as compared to 24% of non-experts. The low adoption rate of password managers among non-experts might stem from a lack of understanding of its security benefits. Only 18% of non-experts considered using a password manager very effective, and another 14% thought it was effective. 39% said a password manager was not effective and 11% said that they did not know.
The research outlines the results of two surveys – one with 231 security experts, and another with 294 web-users who aren’t security experts – asked about what they do to stay safe online.