Pew Reveals What Americans Know About Cybersecurity

April 3, 2017 by Traci Krepper


Turns out, Americans still don’t know much about CyberSecurity.

That’s according to new research from the Pew Data Center, which conducted a cybersecurity knowledge quiz.

The 13 question quiz was designed to test American’s knowledge on a number of cybersecurity issues and terms. A majority of online adults can identify a strong password and recognize the dangers of using public Wi-Fi. However, many struggle with more technical cybersecurity concepts, such as how to identify true two-factor authentication or determine if a webpage they are using is encrypted.

As we in the industry know, cybersecurity is a complicated and diverse subject, but given the pervasiveness of news around cybersecurity, I was still a little surprised by the lack of knowledge. The typical (median) respondent answered only five of the 13 questions correctly (with a mean of 5.5 correct answers). 20% answered more than eight questions accurately, and just 1% received a “perfect score” by correctly answering all 13 questions.

The study showed that public knowledge of cybersecurity is low on some relatively technical issues, like identifying the correct example of multi-factor authentication, understanding how VPNs minimize risk and knowing what a botnet is.

On the flip side, the two questions that the majority of respondents answered correctly included identifying the strongest password from a list of four options and understanding that public Wi-Fi networks have risk even when they are password protected.

Given the median scores, I was proud of missing only one question – guess I have more reading to do on Botnets.

As an industry, it is our duty to not only create systems and securities to improve the tactical effectiveness of fraud prevention, but to educate consumers on many of these topics as well. They often are the first line of defense in stopping fraud and reducing the threat of breaches.