Threats to online data and privacy are everywhere, and have been well documented in recent years. Nevertheless, many people are still essentially flying blind when it comes to their cyber security. That's the takeaway from a new PCMag survey of 2,500 Americans about online safety. Among the findings, 35 percent of those surveyed do not regularly change their passwords unless prompted to do so. Also, 51 percent spend no money on cybersecurity protection, and more than a quarter do not regularly back up their personal data or files.
The survey revealed similar findings among Texans. "Over half of Texans do not feel like they have adequate cyber security knowledge and education to protect themselves from online threats," says Carson Yarbrough with PCMag. The survey also found 4 in 10 Texans "rarely or never" back up their personal data.
Yarbrough tells KTRH there are some simple steps people can take to improving online security. "Making sure you're using protected Wi-Fi networks if you're purchasing things online, because a lot of times that's how hackers get your information, through public Wi-Fi," she says.
There are also more advanced options. "Things like using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), password managers, regularly changing your passwords...things like that can really help your online security," says Yarbrough.
One of the most important items for online protection is reputable anti-virus software. The survey shows 55% of Texans use anti-virus software, but that number should be higher. "A lot of people aren't willing to pay (for anti-virus software) because they think it's not that needed, but it really is," says Yarbrough. "It could save you a ton of money down the line if you were to experience malware or ransomware, where they'll lock up your data and make you pay a fine to get it back."