Image of a woman with a computer and questions marks above her head wondering if she is really cyber smart

Those fun quizzes you can take on social media where you have to identify characters from ‘90s TV shows or figuring out what kind of pasta you would be based on your answers are not the only online tests that make security experts cringe. While those are often fraught with danger, such as viruses or data mining, a recent  quiz from the Pew Research Center tackled different aspects of digital knowledge.

Could you answer the ten questions correctly? Do you know what “https” indicates on a website? Do you know how social media platforms earn money to stay in business? Do you even know who Jack Dorsey is?

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the survey’s 4,272 American adults lack digital knowledge and did not do as well as they might have hoped. For example, only 28 percent of the respondents could correctly identify an example of two-factor authentication; not explain it or tell why we need it to protect ourselves, but even point to an example of it. Only 24 percent knew what “private browsing” really means—and no, it does not mean that companies cannot track your internet history and use that information—and less than half of the respondents knew what net neutrality is.

As you might expect, the correct answers varied with things like age and educational level. To be fair, Mark Zuckerberg might be more recognizable than Jack Dorsey (owners of Facebook and Twitter, respectively) simply because Zuckerberg has been in the news a lot more for some of the data gathering and privacy foibles that have been linked to Facebook.

Fortunately, this is not the kind of test you need to cram for. If you do not know all the ins and outs of net neutrality or phishing scams, you can read up on those online. No, you do not really need to be able to recognize Jack Dorsey’s picture unless you plan to pick him up at the airport, and even then, you could just hold up a sign with his name on it.

However, you have to have digital knowledge on how to protect yourself online. That means avoiding oversharing on social media platforms, locking down your important accounts with both strong passwords and two-factor authentication, spotting a scam or fraud attempt that arrives digitally or by phone or mail and knowing how to respond to a data breach notification letter. Do you know how to freeze your credit report? Do you know why “password” is a terrible password? Do you know that connecting your social media accounts to other apps you use can result in having your personal information gathered and sold?

If you do, congratulations! You passed!

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 from ITRC.


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