Lack of awareness leaves consumers vulnerable to cyberattacks, study finds

An impressive number of American consumers are concerned about cybercrime and, particularly, the risks smart devices pose to the integrity of their homes. Yet they are still in the dark about how to improve security and reduce risks, a study of consumer perspective commissioned by US insurance company Grange Insurance has found.

One in four people has already fallen victim to a cyberattack, and even though most are unaware what measures they can take to protect themselves, others are feeling pretty confident in how they have approached cybersecurity so far. One in five say “doing more to protect themselves from cybercrime is too much of a hassle.”

According to Grange Insurance, the average home has about six smart devices, while 65 percent of consumers said they plan to buy more devices in the future. With IoT devices gaining popularity in the average American home, it’s not only the number of devices per home that is going up. Connected devices are a great entry point for hackers, so the more vulnerable devices in a home, the more opportunities hackers have to take advantage of it.

“Our research suggests that while most consumers worry about the disruption cybercrime can cause in their lives, they are not fully aware of what can be done about it and too often don’t know where to turn for help,” said John North, Personal Lines President, Grange Insurance. “We hope this study will lead to more awareness and action, particularly as we mark Cybersecurity Awareness Month.”

A major problem is that as many as 81 percent of people use public WI-FI when given the opportunity, exposing themselves to a series of risks. Unencrypted Wi-Fi connections in restaurants, hotels or airports are just as convenient for hackers to use as they are for the average user.

Although most tend to connect to public WI-FI, 77 percent of respondents are concerned of the risks they expose themselves to and display “a high level of familiarity and concern about all types of risks.” Two of the most common fears are that hackers will breach their networks and steal their personal information, but one in 10 say they don’t know where to seek advice to improve cyber protection.

While some reach out to cybersecurity companies for awareness and protection, others look into extra protection. A third of consumers have taken into account cyber insurance for their home to protect their networks and data if a cyberattack takes place.

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