Security & Fraud

Pew Reveals What Americans Know About Cybersecurity

pew research cybersecurity knowledge

It turns out Americans don’t know as much about cybersecurity as they probably should.

Despite the increasingly connected digital world many people operate in today, new data from the Pew Research Center showed that many Americans are still in the dark when it comes to key cybersecurity topics.

In fact, the majority of internet users were able to answer fewer than half of the questions correctly on Pew’s cybersecurity knowledge quiz, which covered a variety of issues and concerns.

“Cybersecurity is a complicated and diverse subject, but these questions cover many of the general concepts and basic building blocks that cybersecurity experts stress are important for users to protect themselves online,” Pew explained in its report.

The median number of questions answered correctly on the 13-question quiz was only five. Just 20 percent of 1,055 adult internet users who responded were able to answer more than eight questions correctly and only 1 percent were able to achieve a perfect score.

The two questions that the majority of respondents were able to get right involved identifying the strongest password from a list of four options and understanding that just because a public Wi-Fi network is password protected doesn’t mean it’s safe to use for online banking.

On the flip side, some of the questions that tripped up many of the survey participants included identifying the correct example of multi-factor authentication, understanding how VPNs minimize risk and knowing what a botnet is.

“Although the share of online adults who can correctly answer questions about cybersecurity issues varies from topic to topic, in most cases the share providing an actual incorrect answer is relatively small. Rather, many users indicate that they simply are not sure of the correct answer to a large number of the questions in this survey,” Pew researchers pointed out.

This uncertainty in cybersecurity topics may leave the door open for a big opportunity as hackers continue to get both smarter and more sophisticated.

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Latest Insights: 

The Payments 2022 Study: Building A High-Performance Payments Team For Fraud Detection, a PYMNTS collaboration with Stripe, examines how digital platforms of all sectors and sizes plan to develop their anti-fraud teams as part of their their broader growth and development strategies. Drawing from an extensive survey from approximately 250 payments heads at digital platforms in the U.S. and abroad, our study analyzes how poor anti-fraud capabilities can harm platforms’ long-term growth strategies, and how they can build high-performing teams to tackle these challenges.

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