Most Americans still lack basic knowledge about online security

Brittany A. Roston - Oct 9, 2019, 2:07 pm CDT
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Most Americans still lack basic knowledge about online security

A new report out of the Pew Research Center reveals that many Americans have gaps in their knowledge about digital security, particularly things like how private web browsing works, what two-factor authentication is, and more. The results are based on a survey that contained 10 questions that focused on aspects of social media and cybersecurity.

Knowledge about online security varies, Pew Research Center concluded in its report. The majority of adults in the US are informed about what website cookies are and the nature of phishing scams, for example, but barely over a quarter of surveyed adults were able to select an example of two-factor authentication, the security option that greatly improves one’s online account security.

As well, only around half of the surveyed adults understood what private browsing does and less than a quarter understood that private browsing only prevents other users from viewing the session’s browsing history. Ultimately, after tallying up all of the responses, Pew Research Center found that only 20-percent of US adults were able to answer at least seven of the questions correctly.

A total of 4,272 adults in the US were surveyed as part of this research. In order of responses, the questions with the most correct answers included ones about phishing scams, website cookies, and ads as a revenue source for social media platforms.

Less than half of the survey participants were able to correctly answer questions related to things like privacy policies, net neutrality, the meaning of ‘https’ in relation to cybersecurity, 2FA, which company owns Instagram and WhatsApp, private web browsing, and who Jack Dorsey is.


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