People on the internet have no idea how bad they are at online security

People on the internet have no idea how bad they are at online security
[Photo: John Schnobrich/Unsplash]

A new survey from Google and Harris Poll, released a year after Google introduced “.app” as a more secure alternative to “.com,” shows that while 55% of Americans over the age of 16 give themselves an A or B in online safety and security, 70% of them wrongly identified what a safe website looks like.

The survey of 1,002 adults ages 16-24 and 1,001 adults over the age of 25, all living in the United States, shows that most people dramatically overestimate their understanding of internet security and website safety. According to the survey, while 73% of 16-to-24-year-olds say they can tell the difference between a website that protects their private information and one that doesn’t, only 23% of them correctly identified a link with “https” as being the most secure. In fact, 42% of the survey respondents of all ages didn’t realize there was a difference between a web address with “http” and “https.”

Even after being told that the “s” means a more secure connection, nearly 3 out of 10 (29%) Americans over the age of 16 would still not check to see if there was an “https” on a website where they are entering personal information.

To help consumers stay safe online, Google suggests following these security and safety tips whenever you’re browsing the web, especially before you share personal information online:

  • Always look for the lock icon and the “s” in “https” in a web address to make sure the website you’re visiting is secured with encryption
  • When creating your own website, make sure to install an SSL certificate so that connections to your site are encrypted
  • When clicking links in emails, PDFs, or online text, hover over the hyperlink and make sure it’s what you expect
  • Closely read web addresses and watch for misspellings or extra letters to prevent being misdirected. Hackers can be crafty and will do everything to make a web address look like the real thing but change one minor detail so that you are sent to their website instead of the real one
  • Visit safe.page to learn about URL literacy and simple ways to stay safe online
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