The Intern’s Security Practices Part 2: Links and Software

 As Defence Inteligence’s intern, I decided to survey my class at Algonquin College to find out how they protect themselves from digital threats. Here is the next section of the survey results on links and software.

To start, I asked if my classmates open links on various social media sites and in emails. Here is what they said:

Some of these results could be off because they may not have an account on LinkedIn or Twitter. Since all students have an e-mail address and the majority have a Facebook account as well, it’s not surprising that they have the highest percentage. I will open links on any of those platforms if I recognize the sender and it’s something they normally do. This is how I fall into the 67 per cent that open links from known sources.

With that said, I don’t open every link received from someone that I know. I read the text around the link and check Google for any warnings. This habit saved me from a virus spread through Twitter where you received a message from a friend saying they found a picture of you. When you clicked the link it gave you the virus. With 80 per cent of the students saying they don’t open messages that are just a link, it looks like when it comes to links they have an idea of how to act securely.

It surprised me to find that only 65 per cent of the students admitted to downloading music or movies through sharing and torrents. I’m definitely guilty of this from time to time, especially when it comes to movies.

Moving on to software, we wanted to know when students decide to update their software.

It’s interesting to note that one student wrote on the survey that that they check to see how important the update is.

The most surprising results for the survey was that 82 per cent of students said that they don’t have antivirus software on their phones. I would be curious to see how many are iPhone or Andriod users. As an iPhone user I’m not sure I have any antivirus software.

“People fail to realize that their phone is a computer and should be treated as such,” said Keith Murphy Defence Intelligence CEO.

Similarly 35 per cent of students don’t have antivirus software on their computer or laptop, and 22 per cent don’t know if they have any. This was a shock to both Murphy and myself.

“If they don’t know whether they have AV, it’s safe to assume that they don’t,” said Murphy.

With this news, it’s no surprise that 22 per cent admit to discovering a virus on their computer. Of the 43 per cent of the students that have antivirus software on their computer or laptop, 17.5 per cent use McAfee, 12.5 per cent use Symantec/Norton, two per cent use Windows Essentials, seven per cent use Avast, and five per cent use a different type of software.

Stay tuned for our last post concerning the security attitudes of the students.

By Sarah Raphael

The Intern’s Security Practices Part 1: Passwords

Being the newest addition to the Defence
Intelligence team and having recently been introduced to the world of security,
I’ve been learning some best practices and adjusting my Internet usage habits.
Over the past few weeks I’ve learned that some of my habits, especially when it
comes to passwords, could use some improvement.
We decided to survey a class of first year
public relations students at Algonquin College, in Ottawa, to see how my
practices compared to theirs. The majority of the class is female with an
average age of 21.
We found that 90 per cent of the students
use the same password for multiple accounts. Personally I use different types
of passwords for different types of accounts. I use the same passwords for
social media accounts, another password for my e-mail, and a separate one for
my online banking. I find it difficult to use a different password for
everything because I use a lot of social media sites.
“It’s interesting that this generation has
been called digital natives yet their security practices are very poor. By
using the same password on multiple accounts they are trading their personal
information and security for convenience,” says Keith Murphy the CEO of Defence

Fifteen per cent of the students said they
change their passwords frequently. For the next survey we will need to define
how often ‘frequently’ is. I only change my passwords if the site prompts me to
or I need to reset my password because I forgot it. I was surprised that 77 per
cent of the students use passwords that have more than eight characters. I tend
to use the minimal allowable amount of characters when I create passwords. I
think that the school’s password standard is seven characters, which could be
why some students are using longer passwords.
With only 45 per cent recording their
passwords in a safe place I’m not surprised that their passwords are changed
often. I’ve trouble finding a place to store passwords. When I discussed this
with Murphy, he said that the best practices were to use encrypted storage or
to write them down. He also recommended to avoid saving passwords in the
browser and on your computer.  The
following article from lifehacker
is very helpful outlining some common mistakes and best practices.  You can also see our tips here.
The following chart shows the type of
characters the students are using to create their passwords:
I’m not surprised that the majority of the
students use upper and lowercases, those are fairly common. What surprises me
is that there is a significant drop when it comes to the use of numbers,
special characters, and punctuation. I didn’t start using special characters
and numbers until Google, Apple, and other sites started showing you the
strength of your password.
In the next blog post we will discuss the
survey results concerning the use of links and security software. 

By Sarah Raphael

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