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Monday, October 25, 2004

Families' PC struggle

Millions of family PC owners think their PCs are secure (from viruses, spyware, hackers, etc.), when they're far from secure, a new study has found. The study, from America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance, found that 77% of Americans believe their computer was "very or somewhat safe from threats" and 73% from viruses, while 67% had outdated anti-virus software and 15% didn't have any anti-virus software installed, the Washington Post reports. It's a natural expectation, that the computers we buy come protected, but the basic concept I think a lot of us don't understand is that, when connected to the Internet, computers - even though they come packaged in boxes - aren't stand-alone products. They're connected to a constantly changing environment that their users are trying to understand and get used to. Studies like this will be a great tool for computer makers as they respond to families' PC struggles. For more on those struggles and what to do about them, please see "What if our PC's a zombie?" in my July 16th issue.

BTW, Mac users can expect greater security because of the way their operating systems were designed. There's an old myth that Windows PCs are more vulnerable because Windows has so many more users; here's a column by David Pogue of the New York Times that clears up that myth and gives four solid reasons why Apples are more secure. (There are, however, early signs that this is changing - see "Mac users face rare threat.")


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