Release date 05/01/2013
YONKERS, NY — The latest Consumer Reports’ Annual State of the Net Report found that a projected 58.2 million American adults had at least one malware infection that affected their home PC’s features or performance in the past year. The cost of repairing the damage from those infections was nearly $4 billion.
Consumer Reports projects that 9.2 million Americans were victims of phishing schemes in the past year. They were tricked into submitting personal data to criminal websites that appear to be well-known companies’ sites. Among the big-name companies whose names successful phishers used most often: Bank of America, Chase, Facebook, PayPal, and Visa.
Additional findings from the Consumer Reports Annual State of the Net Report include:
Trouble on Facebook. A projected 9.8 million adult Facebook users had their account used by an unauthorized person; had their reputation harmed; or were harassed, threatened or defrauded. Also, several hundred thousand minors were bullied on Facebook, and at least 3.7 million preteens violated its terms of service by actively using the social network.
Stealthy Facebook Users. 28.5 million Facebook users altered personal information in their profile to protect their privacy, CR projects. Birth dates and names were the biggest fakes.
Lots of Spam. Heavy spam afflicted 43 percent of those surveyed by Consumer Reports.
“Our Annual State of the Net Report revealed that home computers are no safer than they were last year. Effective security software, like the ones we recommend in our latest Ratings, is essential to protect against online threats,” said Jeff Fox, Technology Editor, Consumer Reports.
The full report can be found in the June 2013 issue of Consumer Reports and online at ConsumerReports.org.
Most new computers typically come loaded with an anti-malware program, usually a trial version. When that trial runs out, users are left with the choice of either paying up or making do without it. Consumer Reports’ latest Ratings of security software revealed, however, that some free products are sufficient for most users. Free software like “CR Recommended” Avast Free Antivirus and Avira Free Antivirus offer very good protection from online threats and should adequately protect all but the most at-risk Internet users.
Computer users who remotely access their files when they’re away from home will need stronger protection and should consider a pay suite like top-Rated G Data Internet Security Suite 2013. The full Consumer Reports security software Ratings are available at ConsumerReports.org and in the June issue of the magazine.
In the Consumer Reports national survey, people whose computers had been infected by malware were asked how they verify such problems:
62 percent relied on antivirus software to notify them.
17 percent felt they were savvy enough to verify it themselves.
15 percent relied on someone else with computer expertise.
5 percent used a retailer’s in-house tech support service.
Consumer Reports State of the Net Survey
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted our annual State of the Net survey in January, 2013. The findings are nationally representative of U.S. adult Internet users. Participants were 3,036 adults with a home Internet connection who were part of an online panel convened by GfK, a leading research company. From those respondents, we made national projections. The margin of error for the full sample was ± 1.8 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.