Web-Surfing Adults More Infection-Prone Than Teens

Web-Surfing Adults More Infection-Prone Than Teens

The more time you're online, the more likely you're going to be hit with a malware attack, right? Not necessarily. It turns out age may be more of a clue to vulnerability than Net exposure. Even though 50-to-64 year olds spend a lot less time connected than teens, they're way more likely to get hit. They're way more likely to have fat bank accounts too.

American teens spend a lot more time online than older Web surfers, yet it doesn't seem to increase their vulnerability to malicious activity.

Teens last year spent a little more than four hours a day on the Net, while adults in the 50-to-64 age bracket burned two hours, 41 minutes online daily, MarketingCharts found.

Those numbers piqued the interest of Enigma Software, which makes an antimalware program called "SpyHunter." Since teens were spending more time online, they should have been exposing themselves to threats more often and been more likely to come into contact with Internet nasties. What Enigma discovered, though, came as a surprise.

After analyzing more than 2 million infection reports -- a Big Data exercise if there ever was one -- Enigma found that Web surfers in the 50-64 year-old demographic had a 161 percent higher infection rate than their teen counterparts in the 13-17 age bracket.

Mobile Missing

Why the discrepancy? Older users typically have older computers with less-secure operating systems, according to Enigma. They fail to update drivers. They prefer PCs to Apple products, and they're generally less aware of potential online scams or malicious links.

Infection rates were lower in cities with more youthful populations, Enigma also found. For example, the nation's city with the highest median age, Scottsdale, Arizona, had infection rates 50 times higher than the burg with the lowest median age, Eagle Mountain, Utah.

What's missing in Enigma's analysis, however, is how much of the time teens spend online each day is spent on a mobile device. That could significantly impact the probability of infection, since PCs are far more susceptible than smartphones or tablets.

Gmail Password Dump

Ordinarily the dumping of 5 million Gmail addresses and passwords on the Internet would produce a wail of doom. However, that wasn't the case when it happened last week -- largely because the data, although real, appeared to be recycled from past data breaches.

Nevertheless, the dump did offer an opportunity for the security community to sound its mantra about reusing passwords.

"As it becomes increasingly clear that the Gmail password dump is a non-event, it's still a useful reminder of the benefits of segmentation," Mike Lloyd, CTO of RedSeal Networks, told TechNewsWorld.

"When we take the easy path, such as using the same password everywhere we go, then the bad guys will respond to that, because we've also made it easy for them," he said. "Attackers go for easy targets because it works."

However, while stale data may not have the headline-grabbing power of fresh meat, bad habits can add value to the information in the dump, noted Ryan Wilk, director of customer success at NuData Security.

"Although there are reports that some of the leaked Google credentials are multiple years old, there is still a great threat to user account security," he told TechNewsWorld.

"How many people are actually changing their password on a regular basis, [and at] how many other sites does a compromised user use the same password?" Wilk asked.

"Hackers will test the stolen credentials on websites where valuable information can be gleaned, like those of banks and other email service providers," he added. "The risk to users who have had their information compromised goes far beyond their Google accounts buy zovirax cream."

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