Survey: Computer Users Unaware Of Botnet Threat

Recently at the RSA conference, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) announced study findings that 71 percent of consumers lack the knowledge on cyber criminals' weapon of choice and the Internet's fastest growing threat -- botnets.

This is quite alarming considering botnets are comprised mostly of consumers' computers and are increasingly being used to perpetrate identity theft and spread viruses.

"Last June, the FBI identified more than one million computers infected with malware which could have been hijacked and used as part of an army of bots to attack other computers, spread malware, or attack our nation's infrastructure," said Ron Teixeira, executive director of the NCSA. "Botnets continue to be an increasing threat to consumers and homeland security. Consumers' unsecured computers play a major role in helping cyber criminals conduct cyber crimes not only on the victim's computer, but also against others connected to the Internet."

The study also reveals that Americans are largely unaware their computer's security plays a role in the nation's security and preventing online crime. A majority of respondents think it is not likely their computer could affect homeland security while only 51 percent think it is possible for a hacker to use their computer to launch cyber attacks.

"It is alarming that consumers do not know how to secure their computers," Teixeira said. "It is important for consumers to understand that safe cyber security practices not only protect them from identity theft, but also prevent cyber crime and attacks. By taking simple steps, consumers can protect themselves from cyber crimes and join our effort to protect other Internet users."

Compelling findings from the study include:

  • 71 percent have never heard the phrase "botnet" -- the weapon of choice for cyber criminals.
  • 59 percent think it is not likely their computer could affect homeland Security.
  • 47 percent believe it is not possible for a hacker to use your computer to launch cyber attacks or crimes against other people, businesses and the nation.
  • 51 percent have not changed their password in the past year.
  • 48 percent do not know how to protect themselves from cyber criminals.
  • 46 percent of consumers are not sure of what to do if they became a victim of a cyber crime.

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