Florida residents, beware: The sunshine state is the no. 1 riskiest when it comes to residents' cybersecurity knowledge and internet safety practices, according to a Tuesday report from Webroot and the Ponemon Institute.
The report taps the Ponemon Institute's Cyber Hygiene Index, which attempts to measure people's ability to protect themselves from various criminal attacks in a series of positive and negative survey questions. For this research, the group defined cyber hygiene as "an individual's ability to maintain a high level of readiness in order to prevent, detect and respond to cyber-related attacks such as malware, phishing, ransomware and identity/credential theft," according to the report. The index scores range from +37 points at the high end of the spectrum to -39 points at the low end.
Across the US, Americans are participating in risky online behaviors, according to a survey of 4,200 individuals nationwide. Only 24% of respondents said they regularly monitor bank and credit card statements, block pop-ups, update online account passwords, and take precautions before clicking on an email. And just half of Americans use antivirus or other security software on their devices.
SEE: Password Policy (Tech Pro Research)
Floridians in particular reported poor password security practices, the survey found: 72% of Florida residents said they share passwords or other access credentials with others. In comparison, 53% of New Hampshire residents said they never share passwords with others.
It's also wrong to assume that Florida residents are at a greater risk due to the higher percentage of elderly residents: 75% of respondents age 30 and under were found to have a higher level of cybersecurity risk than older respondents, the report found.
"Regardless of the region, the riskiest states index shows that many people in the U.S. are jeopardizing their safety with inadequate cybersecurity practices," said David Dufour, vice president of engineering and cybersecurity at Webroot.
Here are the five least cybersecure states, based on a survey of more than 4,200 people nationwide:
Index ranking: -6.29
Index ranking: -5.55
Index ranking: -4.28
4. New Mexico
Index ranking: -3.78
Index ranking: -3.07
On the other end of the spectrum, these were the top five safest states:
1. New Hampshire
Index ranking: 4.29
Index ranking: 4.20
Index ranking: 2.44
4. Rhode Island
Index ranking: 2.30
Index ranking: 1.90
Tips for staying secure
The report offered the following five tips to stay secure online:
1. Practice good judgement. Be very careful about the websites you visit, URLs you click, and mobile apps you download. Anything suspicious could be part of a phishing scheme, putting your information at risk.
2. Use a password. Lock your mobile device to ensure your data remains secure.
3. Avoid public Wi-Fi. Unsecured networks can allow criminals to compromise your device.
4. Choose which card is most secure. Money stolen from a debit card may be more difficult to replace than that from a credit card, depending on your bank.
5. Use a reliable antivirus software.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Florida, Wyoming, and Montana residents are the least cybersecure in the nation. — Webroot and Ponemon Institute, 2018
- 24% of US residents say they regularly monitor bank and credit card statements, block pop-ups, update online account passwords, and take precautions before clicking on an email. — Webroot and Ponemon Institute, 2018
- How to set up two-factor authentication for your favorite platforms and services (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- The dumbest passwords people still use (ZDNet)
- Cheat sheet: How to become a cybersecurity pro (TechRepublic)
- Password-sharing politicians prompt security row (ZDNet)
- Businesses in these 10 US cities are most likely to get hit by cyberattacks (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.