With October declared as “Cyber Security Month,” companies responsible for collecting and holding data are preaching the security message.
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) says its recent survey shows consumers have something of a false sense of online security - leaving their digital doors unsecured.
But the fact remains that one in five American homes received a data breach notification last year, and more than 50% of those received multiple notifications.
In spite of that, 79% said they still feel safe in their connected homes – with almost half showing a remarkably strong sense of confidence. The study also found that more than 40% failed to properly secure their wireless routers – the gateway to most digital devices – by not resetting the factory-set default passwords.
“Today's households are more connected than ever and the number of connected devices is growing at considerable pace," said ESET Senior Security Researcher Stephen Cobb.
Is the threat growing?
While the nature of the cyber threat has evolved, a University of New Mexico computer science professor disputes the notion that data breaches are increasing in number.
“Cybersecurity has become a global problem, and to tackle it effectively will require careful analysis of complex datasets from diverse sources,” said Prof. Stephanie Forrest. “This study illustrates how modern data science can shed light on one of today’s most challenging problems.”
Her paper looked at both malicious and negligent breaches. Malicious breaches are those that specifically target someone’s personal information. Negligent breaches happen when someone’s private information is accidentally exposed, like when a laptop is lost or stolen.
“With this work, our goal was to answer the questions: Are security breaches getting bigger? Are they happening more frequently? And when they do happen, are the impacts more catastrophic?” she asked.
The answer, she concludes, is “not really.” The public perception of these data breaches have grown, she says, even if the actual breaches have not.
But there is no doubt data breaches are costly. The research team applied some existing cost models to project that over the next three years, data breaches could cost individuals, companies, and public entities up to $180 billion.