The More You Know

The current headline-grabbing cyber problem is Zeus, a malware program thriving on Facebook. Zeus infects the computer and stays dormant until a user logs into a bank website. Once in a bank site, the program goes to work stealing the user’s passwords and pulling money from their account. The program, although 6-years-old, has become increasingly active in 2013.

Yet, despite news about Zeusrecent hacks, and other, new entry-points for malware, American concern about viruses and online security declined this year.

According to the Unisys Security Index for the U.S., released in April by the Lieberman Research group (link through Politico here), 62 percent of Americans are at least “somewhat” concerned about the security of shopping or banking online in 2013, whereas 64 percent were at least “somewhat” concerned in 2012.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans are at least “somewhat” concerned about viruses or unsolicited emails in 2013. This was exactly the same level as in 2012, but if you look at the categories individually, fewer people noted they are “extremely” or “very” concerned, opting instead for “somewhat” concerned. Fifty-four percent of Americans are seriously concerned about identity theft, down from 59 percent in 2012. 

So, while malware programs like Zeus and other scams siphon money from Internet users, Internet users are less concerned about it. This lack of concern is likely to be, at least in part, a byproduct of the fact that so much more commerce is moving online.  Internet users see online interactions and purchases as part of their daily lives, like a coffee run or trip to the grocery store.

Whether Internet users don’t consider the risks of online fraud or simply dismiss it as coming with the territory, out-of-sight, out-of-mind Internet dangers are very real. Users: stay vigilant as you buy, chat, and bank online. 

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