Women are Less Aware of Cyber-Threats, Study Finds

by Matt Klassen on March 23, 2015

Women who use the Internet are statistically less concerned about protecting themselves from online threats compared to their male counterparts, according to a survey by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, but paradoxically, female Web users seemingly have less need to be wary, as they’re less likely to be victims of malware attacks to begin with.

The study found that only 19 percent of women believe they may be susceptible to cybercrime, while 25 percent of male Internet users think it’s distinctly possible. Further, the study noted that women know less about cyber-threats than men, in general, as 38 percent of women are ignorant of things like ransomware compared to 27 percent of men; 23 percent of men and 34 percent of women know little about malware; and 34 percent of women have little notion of what an exploit is, compared to 21 percent of men.

Paradoxically these findings show that women generally give less attention to mobile security, many seeing little or no threat to their personal privacy, but while 36 percent of women do nothing to protect their device because they see “no risk,” (compared to 28 percent of men) men are more likely to fall victim to cybercrime, and it seems that pesky, gender-clichéd, male dominated DIY attitude is to blame.

Over the entire gamut of security related categories—employing security solutions, likelihood of making back-ups of data, protecting and segregating their data, and general awareness of online threats—women consistently fall behind their male counterparts, demonstrating an alarming lack of awareness that cybercriminals could potentially exploit in gender targeted crime.

The only catch, however, is that the study has found that women are less likely to engage in potentially risky online behavior in the first place, meaning that while they are less aware of the risks of the online world, women tend to avoid the sorts of online activities that contain latent threats to one’s online privacy and security.

For instance, while women are less likely to employ security protocols on their devices, the results showed that over a year long study more men were victim of malware incidents than women (35 percent vs. 27 percent) and men were slightly more likely to “suffer financial consequences” (22 percent vs. 19 percent).

The paradoxical disparity between female users’ general lack of awareness of online threats and the fact they’re less likely to become a victim of cybercrime stems from the fact that statistically “women are particularly concerned about the security of financial transactions compared with other online activities.”

Further, the study found that when confronted with potential malware threats men are more likely to employ a Do-It-Yourself, spending money on security software in an attempt to clean up the threats and protect their data from future such attacks, while women, in a gender cliché that literally makes me cringe, are more likely to seek professional assistance.

So there we have it: Women are considerably less aware of online threats than their male counterparts, but with a healthy dose of online skepticism regarding money transactions and the fact they are more likely to seek out IT professionals for repair and protection services, women are paradoxically less likely to become victims of cybercrime, meaning that as with almost everything in life, both genders clearly still have much to learn.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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