Despite the fact that Asia Pacific has the highest number of internet users in the world, they still have a long way to go in understanding online security and protecting themselves. This is the gist of a recently released ESET Asia Cyber Savviness Report 2015 which polled 1,800 respondents across Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
According to the report, users in the APAC region have a poor idea on how stay safe online. Majority of the respondents commit basic mistakes like using passwords containing easy to access personal information, such as their date of birth or surname, storing passwords and credit card details online, and connecting to unsecured public wi-fi networks.
When asked about common safety risks online in order to find out how much they actually know about cyber security, 68 percent of them said that they are aware of online security issues, but were unable to answer questions regarding cyber security practices. This highlights a need for more education to boost cyber security awareness.
The lack of formal education in the region is an important issue as four in 10 said they gained most of their information about online security through unofficial sources such as doing their own online research, or from their families and acquaintances. Despite over 78 percent of the respondents saying that they did not have any formal training about cyber security, they said that they were keen to learn more.
Considering the rapidly changing landscape of the online world, it is worrying to note that online users might not be aware of new online threats. For instance, nearly half of the respondents in the region felt their PCs and laptops were more likely to be hacked than their smartphones and tablets. Security risks associated with social media, free applications and software downloads are also not taken seriously, with over 30 percent of respondents saying that they were least concerned about exposure to cyber threats via these channels.
"Hackers are like predators in a jungle - they look for easy targets and the path of least resistance. The survey results show that while consumers are adopting technology quickly, they are unwittingly putting themselves at risk by not appreciating the need to secure their new devices, which can be done very easily. Similarly, activities on social media and apps can also pose some threats, but these can be protected against by knowing the fundamentals of cyber security," said Parvinder Walia, Sales Director APAC at ESET.
Cyber-savvy nations fail to practice good online security habits
According to the ESET study, Malaysia is ranked as the most 'cyber-savvy nation' in Asia Pacific, followed by Singapore, India, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia respectively. Cyber-savviness is based on factors such as the ability to understand activities likely to make them vulnerable online, risky behaviours while surfing the web, and the steps users take to protect themselves online.
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