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Survey reveals some shocking gaps in cybersec knowledge. The old jokes about a grandmother trying to work her first computer are funny because the... How Little US Users Know About Cybersecurity

Survey reveals some shocking gaps in cybersec knowledge.

The old jokes about a grandmother trying to work her first computer are funny because the struggle is real (just ask anyone who’s had to help her learn to work her email account). But the reality behind those memes is far from funny, and also far from “old person” jokes. In fact, new data based off of a fairly basic security survey showed the Americans know far less about their digital privacy and cybersecurity than they should.

Survey Highlights How Little US Users Know About Cybersecurity

Just 1% of respondents answered all 13 questions correctly.


Discounect between theory and reality

The Pew Research Center offered up a 13-question survey that covered key topics like password strength, private browsing, smartphone GPS tracking, ransomware attacks, public Wi-Fi connections, and other highly mainstream areas of consumer tech safety. The results of the survey demonstrated a clear disconnect between what users think is true about their privacy and safety, and what is actually at stake.

“This survey consisted of 13 questions designed to test Americans’ knowledge of a number of cybersecurity issues and terms. 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. However, the typical (median) respondent answered only five of these 13 knowledge questions correctly (with a mean of 5.5 correct answers). One-in-five (20%) answered more than eight questions accurately, and just 1% received a ‘perfect score’ by correctly answering all 13 questions.”

Not all bad news

In the top ranking questions for accurate answers, most users (75%) were able to correctly select a “strong” password from a list of four choices. In the same password vein, 73% of users knew that just because a public Wi-Fi connection requires a password – such as a hotel that only allows registered guests to connect over their network – doesn’t mean it’s safe from hackers.


After those two questions, everything pretty much fell apart for the survey respondents. Shockingly few numbers of users were able to correctly identify an example of a phishing attack, knew what ransomware was, knew that “private browsing” settings don’t prevent the ISP from gathering their internet histories, and more.

As they say, though, knowing where the problem lies is the first step to correcting it, so hopefully surveys such as this one will continue to shed light on the ever-evolving digital world. In the meantime, take the quiz for yourself and see where your score falls.

Luckily you’re smarter about security than this! So check out our great range of security software now, right here on FileHippo.