Parents of a certain age may remember an old public service announcement on TV that admonished, "It's ten o'clock. Do you know where your children are?" If you shift the focus from home and family to business and data, the issue of whether you're protecting what's important to you remains the same. In this case, the question becomes, "Do you update your anti-virus software?"
That was one of the questions asked in a recent Harris Poll that looked at how consumers deal with online threats. The poll was sponsored by Eset, a security software provider and maker of NOD32, a unified anti-threat software program that protects against viruses, spyware, adware, trojans, worms and phishing attacks.
The survey of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. revealed what Eset calls "the vast naiveté and complacency of today's computer users with regard to online security." Results indicate that while 88 percent of the respondents have anti-virus software installed on their PCs, 65 percent do not update their software regularly.
Eset estimates (based on research in its threat labs) that every day there are more than 10,000 unique forms of malware that represent a threat around the world. When asked to guess that number, 80 percent of respondents said 1,000.
Another surprising find is that while 55 percent of those people surveyed said that they feel either very confident or confident about the anti-virus protection they used, 42 percent of them have had problems with malware infecting their systems while using AV programs.
The top reasons given by the 65 percent who do not update their anti-virus programs are:
- It was too disruptive to their computer work: 38 percent
- Thought it could wait: 32 percent
- Thought it would take too long: 27 percent
- Didn't know how to update the program:14 percent
Andrew Lee, chief research officer at Eset, said that digital threats are in the midst of a "sea change," and that people need to become more cautious and proactive to meet this chance. "The motivation for these attacks is changing from fame to fortune," he said. "Hackers used to be mainly kids who did it for the bragging rights, but now, we're seeing more organized groups of criminals hacking to make money."
Not surprisingly, Lee claims that its product, NOD 32, can better defend against all manner of malware than its competitors. He attributes this to two things, the first being heuristics (Eset calls it ThreatSense technology), a detection technology that works proactively to identify unknown viruses, Trojans, spyware and phishing.
"If you run a signature-based AV program on your PC and a new virus or other threat arrives on the scene, your AV company must detect it, identify its signature, and then send out an update — all of which can take hours, leaving your system vulnerable until the update arrives," he said.
"NOD32 works proactively and can identify previously unknown threats in real time." Lee also said that third-party testing by VirusTotal.com found that NOD32 is more effective at proactive threat detection than Symantec (Eset posts the results of that testing on this page).
"If there's a new threat that comes out right now, you want to know, 'Am I protected?' With NOD32, in over 90 percent of cases, yes you are. That's compared to one out of 16 times with Symantec."
Lee added that NOD32 does not demand much in the way of system resources so that it runs automatically in the background without disrupting computer applications — or your productivity.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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