Feeds

Study: Users don't much care about Heartbleed hacking dangers

Pew finds the public less interested in flaw than previous incidents

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Despite dire warnings from security experts and a massive public awareness campaign, users are less aware of the Heartbleed flaw than other recent security threats.

So say researchers with the Pew Research Center. According to a public survey of 1,501 people conducted by the company, less than one fifth feel they are well versed on the dangers of the flaw, and less than 40 per cent have taken action to protect their accounts.

The survey (PDF) polled users on both the level of their awareness on the data-leaking OpenSSL flaw and the steps they have taken to change credentials which may have been harvested by attackers. The study of 1,501 American adults was taken in the midst of the Heartbleed scare between the 23-27 April.

During that time, researchers found that 60 per cent of adults had heard of Heartbleed in some form, though 41 per cent said that they had "a little" information about the flaw and just 19 per cent had heard "a lot" about it.

Additionally, just 39 per cent of those polled said they had taken steps to secure their accounts against attacks by changing passwords or canceling unused accounts.

Those numbers, say researchers, indicate far less interest among the public in Heartbleed than other recent security threats. Pew studies in the past found that events such as the Edward Snowden data leaks drew heavy interest from more than half of all internet users, while other recent current events have caught the public attention at a higher clip than Heartbleed coverage.

"The Heartbleed story registered roughly the same level of public awareness as the U.S.-Iran negotiations and agreement to allow monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program (in November and December 2013) and Catholic Bishops in the U.S. protesting Obama Administration policies they believe restricted religious liberty (July 2012)," Pew wrote in its report on the survey.

While public awareness is lacking, many of the enterprises and service providers most impacted by Heartbleed have been taking major steps to alleviate the danger posed to their systems by the OpenSSL vulnerability.

While the Heartbleed fix has been a challenge for administrators, end users can (and should) reduce their risk with simple steps such as updating software and firmware and changing up passwords. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.