Report: The Safest & Most Vulnerable States to Cybercrime

The Ponemon Institute, an institute that conducts independent research on privacy, data protection, and information security policy, recently released The Cyber Hygiene Index (CHI). The CHI compiles the results of a US-based survey that assesses consumers’ ability to protect themselves from online attacks. The Ponemon Institute defines cyber hygiene as “an individual’s ability to maintain a high level of readiness in order to prevent, detect and respond to cyber-related attacks such as malware, phishing, ransomware and identity/credential theft.”

A total of 4,290 respondents were surveyed across 50 states and Washington D.C.

Respondents were quizzed on 5 key issues

  • Identity fraud or identity theft crime
  • Malware attacks
  • Loss of a data-bearing device (a PC, tablet, smartphone and/or USB)
  • Password practices
  • Online Behavior

The respondents were asked to limit their answers to the above-mentioned topics to a 12 months time frame.

New Hampshire Fared Best; Florida Ranked Last

New Hampshire proved to be the state where residents are best equipped to defend against cyber threats; it was followed by Massachusetts, Utah, Rhode Island, and Minnesota. Florida on the other hand, the state with least secure residents, was preceded by Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Illinois.

Beyond state ranking, the survey exposed some alarming behaviors among netizens

11% of respondents said that their identity had been stolen over the last 12 months.
Yet 14% said that they made no changes after the incident, that’s more than 1 in 10.
Roughly, only half said that they changed their passwords (54%) or that they started using a credit monitoring or identity protection service (42%).

Only a third of respondents said that none of their devices was infected with malware (35%). At the other side of the spectrum, one in five said that malware affected more than 10 devices they owned.
23% said that they’ve received more than 20 phishing emails in the last year

A whopping 46% said that they don’t use antivirus (AT) software; of those who do, one in five don’t have any updates scheduled for their AT.
The survey also looked at AT protection in relation to the type of device: 65% said that their windows machines were protected, 33% said that their Mac machines were protected, but the results dipped when it came to mobile devices: 19% of Android phones, 10% of iPhones, and roughly 10% of tablets

Only 36% of respondents said that they never share their passwords. 19% share it frequently. And only 21% use a password manager.

The report also highlights a number of other trends and behaviors, such as keeping software up to date, backups, monitoring credit card statements, and so forth. You can access the full report here. Be sure to check it out as it offers some chilling insights. The aim is not to scare you, but to point out vulnerabilities and bad behaviors that could save you from such scams.