So, You Think You are Smart?

Recently I blogged (Once Upon A Cybercrime…) about a survey ESET commissioned which indicated that Mac users are victims of cybercrime as often as PC users. This finding was not the main point of the survey, but was an interesting finding. The survey is titled “Securing Our e-City National Cybercrime Survey” and was commissioned to gather more information about how we can better target education as part of our Securing our e-City project. You can learn more about Securing Our e-City at http://securingourecity.org/

I want to share with you some additional findings of the study over the coming days and weeks. Extrapolating the losses of those surveyed it appears that cybercrime has cost Americans 11 billion dollars.

First I’ll give you a breakdown of the educational levels of our survey participants.

5% had less than a high school education. 25% had a high school education. 29% had some college. 27% had a college degree. 14% had advanced degrees.

Now let’s look at the victimization rates.

2% of those with less than a high school education had been victims
2% of those with a high school education had been victims
9% of those with some college education reported being victims
7% of those with a college degree reported being victims
18% of those with advanced degrees reported being victims

Given this data, the logical conclusion is that the number one way to avoid cybercrime is to avoid college!

But seriously, I don’t really think it is education that makes one stupid, or makes them a victim. A more likely explanation is that those with higher earnings make more attractive targets. It is also quite possible that those with higher education feel they are smart enough to avoid being tricked. A PhD in psychology does not translate to internet security knowledge. A degree in dentistry does not afford a higher level of computer security knowledge. Even people with computer science degrees often fail to learn enough about computer and Internet security.

I am a firm supporter of education, but when it comes to computers there is specific education required if you wish to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime. Knowing tips and techniques, such as I describe at  AntiPhishing Made Easy  can make a big difference. Education won’t always protect you. When a TJ Maxx or Heartland compromises your credit card information, your computer savvy isn’t going to help. When you receive and email claiming that information is needed to secure your web mail account, then security knowledge is quite useful. When something tells you that you need a codec to view a movie, just a little bit of security knowledge protects you. When you see something that says you need a new flash player, knowing to go to Adobe for the update and not accepting it anywhere else on the web is what is going to prevent you from infecting your computer.

Yeah, you might have a lot of college education, but if you do, you probably have more money and are a much more attractive target to the cyber criminal. If you have more to lose then you have more to gain by becoming a savvy computer user.

Randy Abrams
Director of Technical Education
 

Author , ESET

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