People Going To Extreme Lengths To Protect Their Devices – But, Do They Really Understand the Threats?

By   David Emm
Principal Security Researcher , Kaspersky | Jun 13, 2016 08:38 pm PST

To protect their privacy, paranoid users are turning to a multitude of different methods to keep their personal data away from prying eyes in the online world, including hiding their computers. Yet, multiple research studies from Kaspersky Lab show that not enough users are aware of the risks, and those that are, use the wrong methods to stay safe online.

The research shows Internet users turning to a number of different methods to keep their privacy safe. One-in-five (20 per cent) admit that they cover up their webcam in an attempt to protect their privacy. However, it’s important to recognise that covering a webcam cannot prevent audio interception and therefore cannot protect users from being listened to by hackers or malicious groups.

Over a quarter of Internet users (28 per cent) store their sensitive data on devices that have no Internet access, mistakenly thinking that this will guarantee the protection of their data. However, although this theory is grounded in logic, and is essential to secure backup data from the effects of a ransomware attack, even without an Internet connection as it is possible for a device to be infected via a connected smartphone or USB stick.

18 per cent of those surveyed admitted that they try to avoid using popular websites like Google and Facebook because of the personal information they gather, despite the fact that it is normal practice for almost all websites to track users and collect some user data today.

Moreover, eight per cent of paranoid respondents admitted to hiding their computers from other people, even though this will not help protect them from Internet threats. Eight per cent also said they devote time to entering then erasing credit card data when paying online, in an attempt to confuse viruses, despite the fact that malware, especially keyloggers, won’t be confused this way.

While some use these extreme, but inadequate methods, the statistics show that other Internet users are severely lacking in cyber-savviness. Only 23 per cent said they feel targeted online and 23 per cent said that they do not think a security solution is necessary, raising questions about their online awareness and ability to protect themselves from harm.

David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab:

david emm “These findings demonstrate two extremes – on the one hand, there are people who think they can keep their data safe by, for example, hiding their computers; but on the other hand, there are still those who are simply not taking the necessary precautions online. People need to become more cyber-savvy – with today’s security solutions it’s possible to protect yourself from cyber-threats without having to go to the extreme lengths of hiding a computer.”

It is possible for users to protect themselves from online threats, without having to resort to extreme – or inaccurate – methods. Kaspersky Internet Security, for example, can safeguard users without affecting their digital lives. The Webcam Protection feature for Mac and Windows can maintain user privacy, whilst specialist anti-tracking features – such as the Private Browsing function – can help users who want to avoid being tracked by websites – by cutting off user data from Internet traffic.