Singaporeans value online data, lack protection knowhow

update Internet users in city-state have basic understanding of current security climate but unsure of how to secure information due to 'confusion' over security tools, Symantec exec says.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--Singaporeans are concerned about protecting their information on the Internet and are aware of online threats, but came up short in knowing how to protect themselves and their sensitive data, a new Symantec survey reveals.

Released on Wednesday, the report showed that three quarters of the locals here, or 76 percent, would willingly give up US$1 million than to grant strangers full access to their computers. Half of the local respondents also declared that they value their financial information most, followed by 24 percent who stated that online accounts such as e-mail and social networks are the most important, it stated.

People here have so much information on their PCs and are starting to realize how much the loss of such data can cost them, such as when a hacker steals their credit card information and selling it to the underground economy, said David Freer, vice president of Norton Asia-Pacific & Japan, at a briefing to unveil the survey here Wednesday.

The online survey was conducted and completed in February 2012 by market research firm The Leading Edge, commissioned by Symantec. It polled some 500 adults aged between 15 and 64 years old in Singapore, China, Japan, India, and Australia.

Despite the awareness, 66 percent of locals has little to no understanding of the available online security offerings available to them, Symantec stated in the report. In fact, 45 percent indicated that a basic security solution or antivirus is all they need, it said.

Freer, however, said this is not true. "Basic security solution can only protect you from viruses, spam and threats two to three years ago. Threats evolve very quickly today and these solutions will not be able to keep up and protect you."

Confusion over security offerings
He also pointed out that many Singaporeans are "confused" about which online security offerings to choose from as there are too many brand names and functionalities available.

"Users understand that they need a solution but they do not know which ones to pick," he remarked.

This confusion worsens when it comes to mobile device offerings, he added. Users no longer live in a PC-centric world with more gradually migrating to the mobile arena and owning more than one device. That said, these people might not know how to protect data across all these devices, Freer explained.

As such, tools that can protect various devices are needed, he said, citing the survey findings which stated 55 percent of Singaporeans wanted a multi-device Internet security solution.

Security vendors also need to think about how to explain to consumers what the right product is and which features are more suitable for them, he advised. Surveys, for example, can be conducted to "drill deeper" into what users do not understand about security offerings, what is not being offered, and what features would appeal to them, he added.

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