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9 reasons why users still struggle with online security

By August 15, 2015July 5th, 2016IT Support in Toronto

9 reasons why users still struggle with online security

A new report from Google finds a disconnect between online security best practices from experts and users. Here’s where the groups differ.

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Software updates

Installing software updates was the security practice that differed the most between security experts and users, according to the report. Thirty-five percent of experts mentioned it as a top security tactic, compared to just 2 percent of non-experts.

A lack of awareness of how effective software updates are might explain users’low numbers, the report said. “Our results suggest the need to invest in developing an updates manager that downloads and installs software updates for all applications—much like mobile application updates on smartphones,” it said.

Protection concept: computer keyboard with Shield With Keyhole icon and word Security, selected focus on enter button, 3d render

Antivirus software

Using antivirus software was the security action mentioned by most users relative to experts. Forty two percent of users said that running antivirus software on their personal computers is one of the top-three things they do to stay safe online, compared to just 7 percent of experts.


Firewalls also ranked high among users, which 17 percent mentioned in their top-three security actions, often in conjunction with antivirus software. Just 3 percent of experts prioritized firewalls as high. Experts cautioned against antivirus software and firewalls, calling them “simple, but less effective than installing updates”and “less sophisticated.”


Using strong and unique passwords were some of the most mentioned strategies by both groups, the report found. While more experts than users emphasized unique passwords (25 percent vs. 15 percent) fewer talked about having strong passwords (18 percent vs. 30 percent). Users also prioritized changing passwords more often than experts (21 percent vs. just 2 percent).

Password managers

Despite password specifics claiming two of their top-five spots, using password managers ranked low among users. Just 3 percent of users mentioned using the tools, compared to 12 percent of experts. Adopting password managers rounded out the top five security practices for experts.

Furthermore, just 32 percent of users ranked password managers as very effective or effective, while only 40 percent said they would follow advice to use them. Users commented that password managers were too “complicated for non-technical users.”

“Users’ reluctance to adopt password managers may also be due to an ingrained mental model that passwords should not be stored or written down—advice users have been given for decades,”the report said. “Password managers can make it feasible to use truly random and unique passwords to help move users away from memorable passwords, which are vulnerable to smart-dictionary attacks.”

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