Assessing the security perceptions of personal internet users

Personal Internet users are increasingly finding themselves exposed to security threats during their use of home PC systems. However, concern can be raised about users’ awareness of these problems, and the extent to which they are consequently protected and equipped to deal with incidents they may encounter. This paper presents results from a survey of 415 home users to assess their perceptions of security issues, and their attitudes towards the use of related safeguards. The findings reveal that although there is a high degree of confidence at a surface level, with respondents claiming to be aware of the threats and utilising many of the relevant safeguards, a deeper inspection suggests that there are several areas in which desirable knowledge and understanding are lacking. Although many of the problems were predictably acute amongst novice users, there were also notable shortcomings amongst users who considered themselves to have advanced levels of computing experience.