Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

Here at WinMagic, we’re not cognitive experts –but we can certainly buy into the theory that a repetitive warning is an effective persuasion tactic. For example, if over a short period of time, someone encounters multiple advertisements, reports and first-hand accounts that not wearing suntan lotion could lead to skin cancer, one could logically assume that person would think of applying suntan lotion the next time they went to the beach. But like we said – we aren’t cognitive experts – we’re data security experts, which makes the topic of bad consumer security habits very near and dear to our hearts.

Bad Consumer Security Habits Are Here to Stay

For two years in a row, WinMagic has asked consumers the same questions about how they secure their own machines, i.e. computers, laptops and mobile devices. Given that 2014 was arguably the “Year of the Breach,” with numerous well-known brands admitting in high-profile fashion that consumer data was compromised, it’s reasonable to assume consumers would rapidly adopt best practices to protect themselves. Unfortunately, the main takeaway from this year’s WinMagic-commissioned, Harris Poll-executed survey shows us that this was not the case.

Consider the following chart, which reviews year-over-year trends results from the survey.

year-over-year trends results from the survey

The percentage of consumers that change their passwords regularly only increased by four percentage points. More strikingly for a company that sells encryption products, less consumers say they encrypt their machines. And six out of every hundred people surveyed do nothing—that means they don’t even install A/V software or require a password when logging into their machine.

Plus, Consumers Are More Commonly Placing Sensitive Information at Risk

If high-profile data breaches were not motivation enough for consumers to beef up data protection on their machines, what exactly is at risk if those machines are breached, lost or stolen would be additional motivation, according to the survey.

For two years in a row, the survey has asked consumers which personal information would be at risk if a laptop or desktop computer or mobile device were stolen or lost. The headline: More consumers indicate that sensitive and embarrassing information is at risk. Below is a chart to outline the shifts, year-over-year.

More consumers indicate that sensitive and embarrassing information is at risk

Last year, experts at WinMagic created a guide for IT pros, noting that their end users were likely not adhering to best practices with how they secured their own personal computers. Given those habits were being brought into the office, we provided tips and tricks to manage the naiveté.

One year later, WinMagic is sad to report that consumer habits have not improved. It is time for IT pros to retrench their efforts. And we’re happy to talk about a failsafe way to protect data at the end point.

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