Many home computer users "too lazy" to protect online security

April 14, 2014

Nicole Braun, who will be graduating in May with a PhD in Information Systems, set out to understand why many home users do not adequately protect themselves online, despite extensive media coverage about the risks.

"At home there's no punishment for not taking measures to protect yourself so it really comes down to individual initiative," she says.

"I was surprised that so many people said they were too lazy to deal with the issue, although I suspect sometimes this was to conceal a lack of knowledge, as people prefer to be seen as lazy rather than incompetent. But others simply weren't concerned about their own cybersecurity."

Nicole found that people's confidence levels determine how they act. "Some people are blindly trusting of every website they come across, without considering that legitimate websites can get hacked, so don't feel the need to take .

"Then there are the people who think they will be safe from all harm as long as they use anti-virus software. However, we're seeing more and more that just using anti-virus software isn't enough."

People's previous experience was found to impact on how confident they felt in their ability to protect themselves. For instance, people who had experienced a virus on their computer that had either made them lose data or money from were more confident if they had managed to solve the problem.

"On the other hand, people who'd never experienced any issues often had the attitude that if it hadn't happened to them there was nothing to worry about."

Reliance on others was also found to be common, particularly women who relied on their husbands to protect them, or older users who were reliant on their children. "It takes time to find out what steps can be taken to protect yourself, so many of these people were happy to leave the problem in someone else's hands."

In her research, Nicole identified five animals that characterise the most typical security users, and suggests the best way of reaching each group. They are the: mouse (timid, low confidence), ostrich (low awareness, ignores the risks), coyote (knowledgeable but willing to take risks if the payoff is there), dark horse (good at protecting their security but lack confidence) and cockerel (proud of their security knowledge).

"My research made it clear that creating a 'one size fits all' security message isn't effective, as you are dealing with such a range of personality types. I'd like to see more tailored messages getting out there."

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6 comments

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BSD
3 / 5 (6) Apr 14, 2014
There are also those who are too stupid to update from Windows XP, let alone update security.
Jumbybird
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2014
This is nonsense… Websites need to protect their user…they are the ones making money off the user, so they should protect them. I shouldn't have to worry about my data when I use a website. Also when you design an operating system, you're responsible for making it secure, you sold it to me, you should be responsible.
codingzebra
5 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2014
The advice you get on passwords that you should use a unique one for each website you log into is very hard. Especially if like my wife and I you have many websites or email lists that you belong to. I do take precautgions, though I use McAfee's Virus protection and their website recommendation software.
BSD
5 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2014
As I was saying, MS users are not only stupid but.....

Oh look, here's one now:

This is nonsense… Websites need to protect their user…they are the ones making money off the user, so they should protect them.


Then continue to suffer the consequences of your naivety and lack of responsibility for your own system,
aau93940
1 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2014
MS users are not only stupid but
Microsoft already anounced, that its servers aren't affected with Heartbleed bug, simply because it doesn't use the OpenSource in mission critical applications. Maybe MS has been even informed with NSA in advance about this bug, as it does cooperate with NSA closely in many areas.
Nik_2213
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2014
"...too stupid to update from Windows XP..." ??

There are so many reasons NOT to update from XP to eg 8.1, and the big one is productivity. The second, by a whisker, is back-compatibility.

When my lovely, lovely twin-screen ex-CAD XP system was trashed by a January electric storm repeatedly cycling our power, I had to run out and buy a new PC, which came with 8.1.

Took a long, hard week to sanitise 8.1's 'look & feel' from a wannabe smart-phone to something mostly useful.

I also had to buy a pre-used XP office PC from Amazon (£50) as Win 8.1's bundled software could not read the OE contacts lists and e-mails archived on our NAS drive...

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