When it comes to dangers on the internet, we are our own worst enemies

Deborah Salmi, 10 December 2014

When it comes to dangers on the internet, we are our own worst enemies

Today’s biggest threat to the normal consumer is the consumer themselves.

This bold statement was made by Avast CEO Vincent Steckler in an interview with German technology website Valuetech in Munich last week. That's a daring position to take after this year’s revelations about NSA spying, the theft of tens of millions of customer passwords from major retailers like Target and Home Depot, the recent Sony Pictures hack, and the normal parade of Trojan horses, worms and viruses, but it’s one that Steckler stands behind.

Watch the interview here (04:00),

Mr. Steckler has good reason for his conclusion. Here's a few of the main points he made during the interview.

Social engineering preys on human weakness

“A lot of attacks are still using social engineering techniques; phishing emails – ways of convincing the user to give up valuable information,” said Steckler.

An example of phishing emails just occurred after Black Friday, when cybercrooks sent millions of fake purchase confirmation emails to customers of major retailers. You can read about that, as well as what to do if you are a victim, in our blog, Fake confirmation emails from Walmart, Home Depot, others in circulation.

The Mac misconception

Mac users are well-known for proudly touting that they don’t use antivirus protection because they never have a problem with viruses. But, it’s really a numbers game.

“There is no fundamental difference,” Steckler says of the security of PCs and Macs. “Mac is not inherently any safer, as a technology, than Windows is. What makes a difference there is what is more opportune for a bad guy to attack.”

He explains that malware written for Windows can attack up to 93% of the world’s PCs. Mac malware only reaches 7-8% of the world’s PCs. The safety then lies in the lower numbers of Mac devices rather than a technical safety advantage.

Households networks are as complicated as small business networks

With the interconnectivity of household devices from household computers, mobile phones, TVs and even refrigerators, Steckler compares the typical household network to that of a small business.

“The central weakness in this ‘Internet of Things’ will be that home router – the thing that connects everything together,” says Steckler, “and basically doesn’t have any security on it.”

Avast 2015 seeks to address this lack in security by including the new Home Network Security scanner.

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