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U.S. Still Needs To Educate Itself About Cybersecurity

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Americans know less about cyber security than about other technical issues according to a recentPew Research Center poll.

Most of the more than 1,000 people polled couldn't answer half the questions on a recent quiz Pew rated as difficult. 

Greg White, director of the University of Texas at San Antonio's Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security, says while he isn't concerned people are missing questions about what a "Botnet" is-- he is concerned only half got the question related to phishing correct.

Credit Pew Research Center

"Because everybody gets those, and for people to not be able to recognize a phishing attack is concerning," he says.

Phishing, that's with a P-H, is when people are sent an email that looks legitimate with a link to a malicious website or spoofed website to access someone's data.

White thinks the trend is heading in the right direction.  He was impressed that people could identify the strongest password from a list--but the change is coming too slowly.  He's pushing for a culture of security starting young...an awareness campaign the likes of McGruff the Crime Dog or Smokey the Bear.

"You go out to the person on the street and show them a picture of Smokey, they'll tell you who that is. American Ad Council will tell you it's something like 90-some percent penetration. Where's our cyber equivalent of that?" asks White.

18-29 year olds scored one question better than 65 and older respondents to the Pew quiz.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org