What You Don’t Know about Cybersecurity Can Hurt You

When it comes to protecting our privacy and staying safe online, new data from the Pew Research Center shows that too many of us aren’t as savvy as we think. The need for strong passwords, the dangers of connecting to public wifi, even the ability to spot common scams are topics that many people aren’t familiar with.

Pew conducted a survey of multiple choice questions designed to test American’s knowledge of things like phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, strong password construction, secure forms of login, and more. The results of the survey showed that the majority of respondents could only answer less than half the questions with any degree of accuracy.

“This survey consisted of 13 questions designed to test Americans’ knowledge of a number of cybersecurity issues and terms… the typical (median) respondent answered only five of these 13 knowledge questions correctly (with a mean of 5.5 correct answers). One-in-five (20%) answered more than eight questions accurately, and just 1% received a ‘perfect score’ by correctly answering all 13 questions.”

There is some good news in the results, though. More than seventy percent of the respondents correctly answered that public Wi-Fi connections are not secure enough for transactions like online banking, even if they’re password protected. And speaking of passwords, 75% were able to correctly identify a “strong” password from a list of options.

Unfortunately, only around half of the users knew what a phishing attack was, nearly the same percentage of respondents who knew that turning off your GPS function on your smartphone does not mean your location can no longer be tracked with it. Only 48% knew what ransomware is, and less than 40% knew that “private browsing” online doesn’t mean your internet service provider can’t see what websites you visit, or store your internet history.

So how do you know if you’re a cybersecurity star student? First, you can find out what you know and don’t know by taking the quiz and learning your results. After that, sign up for the Identity Theft Resource Center’s TMI Weekly, an emailed newsletter that contains information on the latest scams, fraud attempts, and identity theft threats.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App.

Read next: Spring Cleaning for your Mobile Device

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