Cybersecurity is essential but confusing, according to new survey

Cybersecurity is becoming a high priority for both businesses and consumers, but nearly 50% of people don’t know what steps to take to achieve this according to the UK Cyber Survey.

The first-of-its-kind survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), revealed some telling statistics about the state of cybersecurity in the UK including the good and bad habits we practise, the most commonly used and hacked passwords, our biggest cybersecurity fears and where our responsibilities lie.

Only 15% are confident in their knowledge around cybersecurity and protecting themselves, while 46% of respondents said most of the information about how to be secure online is confusing, suggesting conflicting advice. This rings true, as one of the biggest misconceptions around cybersecurity is what constitutes a strong password. Many organisations’ password requirements are outdated, requiring passwords with complex characters rather than long passwords, which are proven to be harder to crack. You can read more about this in our security expert Grant Campbell’s blog and find out why strings of words make the best passwords.

The NCSC also published research on the top 100,000 passwords that have been breached, finding 123456 as the most common password despite the proliferation of advice on strong passwords that advises against basic number patterns. On the password front, it’s encouraging to see some behaviours becoming common practise; 70% always use a password or PIN to unlock their phones or tablets, while over half use “strong and separate” passwords for their main email accounts.

However, some of the most commonly recommended actions aren’t taken by many people. Only 25% of people always turn on 2-factor authentication (2FA) for their email account and even fewer (15%) use a password manager to securely store their passwords. By using 2FA, users can add an extra level of protection to their online accounts that’s even more difficult to crack than a password, as it relies on verifying your identity through another method like sending a text message to your phone.

Less than half of respondents (49%) manually lock their computer screens when stepping away from their desk, while only 46% install software and app updates when they notice they’re available, and even fewer people check emails, texts or social media messages to see if they’re genuine (35%).

Attitudes to the possibility of falling victim to cybercrime are revealing. Over two-thirds of respondents believe they’ll be a victim of some sort of cybercrime in the next two years, while a third (37%) believe that losing money or personal information online is now unavoidable. It’s clear that more and more people are understanding the widespread impact cybercrime can have on themselves, their businesses or family and friends.

80% of those surveyed said cybersecurity is either a very high (50%) or fairly high (30%) priority, with more citing it as a high priority in the workplace. It’s clear that most people now understand the vital importance of good cybersecurity; however, it isn’t reflected with actions. Cybersecurity advice is clearly either lacking or people are seeing contradictory advice and don’t know which is best to follow.

The burden of protecting your business doesn’t have to fall on your staff if this isn’t their area of expertise. Outsourcing IT operations is becoming increasingly popular as businesses turn to cybersecurity experts like TSG for reliable managed security services. Not only can you free up your internal resources to add value to your business, but you can rest assured that you’re in safe hands and will always be one step ahead when it comes to security.

You can read more of our top tips to keep your business and personal data secure on our blog: