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More than one third of Americans don’t use basic malware protection, Bitdefender study shows

Advanced security technologies such as VPN and two-factor authentication are used by less than one in 10 Americans.

One in three US-based computer users don’t use an antivirus solution, according to a survey carried by Romanian antivirus vendor Bitdefender in September. Only 67.3 percent of respondents are protected by an antivirus solution.

The study also finds that young females (aged 18 to 29) are the least interested in securing their computers or smart devices. In contrast, adult male computer users (aged 30 to 44) are extremely concerned about their online security and complement their antivirus solution with extra technologies such as VPN or data backup.

The number of malware incidents reported by the interviewed subjects reflects the poor state of security on their devices — 46.9 percent said their home devices have been infected with malware, while 7 percent encountered malware infections at work. 19.2 percent of the study respondents don’t know if their devices have ever been infected.

Password reuse is also common in the US even after a series of high-profile data breaches in the past three years. Almost 30 percent of the interviewed North Americans reuse or use slightly different versions of their passwords for all their accounts. To make matters worse, only 7.2 percent of Americans have enabled two-factor authentication mechanisms to safeguard their online identities. Respondents say they fear they’ll forget passwords if they don’t reuse the same ones.

Bitdefender’s study also reveals the increased incidence of other poor security practices such as the use of unsecured or untrusted mobile hotspots. Over 74 of respondents said that they had connected to an untrusted Wi-Fi network at least once, but only 8.5 percent of them have adopted a VPN solution to encrypt mobile traffic.

The security of financial accounts and identity theft are two of North Americans’ greatest concerns in the digital world. 60.7 of respondents fear having their banking accounts hacked, while 51.4 fear a compromise of their personal information. 40.1 percent also fear a malware infection that could allow hackers to turn on their webcam or microphone.

About the author

Bogdan BOTEZATU

Bogdan Botezatu is living his second childhood at Bitdefender as senior e-threat analyst. When he is not documenting sophisticated strains of malware or writing removal tools, he teaches extreme sports such as surfing the web without protection or rodeo with wild Trojan horses. He believes that most things in life can be beat with strong heuristics and that antimalware research is like working for a secret agency: you need to stay focused at all times, but you get all the glory when you catch the bad guys.

1 Comment

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  • One third! Thats really a frightening number…
    My uncle lost his im[portant data and office files in the last month who lives in new york. Besides, he is also freelancer who is tend to transact financials almost all the day through internet. Though he is not sure what caused his this big havoc, i can assume he was a malware victim by reading this post.
    Thanks for this useful message to us Bogdan,