Germans most aware of online threats, Russians believe the most security myths

Computer users in Germany are the best informed about the threats lurking online. Their Russian counterparts, on the other hand, may fall victim to more online scams because of their trust in security myths.

Americans fall somewhere in the middle, but are still "dangerously out-of-touch with the sophistication of today's threat landscape," said antivirus provider G Data Software, Inc. in a study published on June 24.

The study tracked close to 16,000 respondents from 11 countries to discover how users assess threats on the internet.

According to G Data Software, the majority of computer users "are misinformed about the source and impact of modern malware."

"When it comes to how malware impacts computers, consumer expectations overwhelmingly haven't kept pace with today's stealthy threats," added G Data Software.

Nearly all Americans thought that they would be able to tell if their computer was infected by a virus or malware through signs such as pop-ups, slower running speeds or frequent crashes. However, according to G Data Software, "today's malware is operated by professionals looking to surreptitiously steal sensitive information, without risking detection."

A second myth highlighted by the antivirus company is that visiting porn sites is more risky than browsing hobby sites.

"[I]n reality, hobby and amateur sites are far easier to attack than adult sites," advised G Data Software. "Hobby sites are also much slower in removing malware - and with visitors not being careful on these sites -- they pose a greater infection risk than adult sites, where visitors expect danger."

The study found that almost 89 percent of Americans use some type of security software to protect their computers.

Russia had the lowest number of users with a security solution installed (83 percent), while the UK had the highest at 94 percent.

The US Department of Homeland Security Computer Emergency Readiness Team provides the following list of common cyber security myths on its website:

  • Anti-virus software and firewalls are 100% effective. 
  • Once software is installed on your computer, you do not have to worry about it anymore. 
  • There is nothing important on your machine, so you do not need to protect it. 
  • Attackers only target people with money. 
  • When computers slow down, it means that they are old and should be replaced.
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