Webroot, a leading provider of security solutions for the consumer, enterprise and SMB markets, today released its latest research report, "State of Internet Security: Protecting Your Digital Life." The report reveals PC users are storing vast amounts of personal, professional and financial data on their home computers – and 46 million users lost some, if not all, of their valuable data last year because it was left vulnerable to hardware failure, software corruption and human error.
"Based on our research, nearly 90 people per minute experienced some loss of personal data last year," said Webroot Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Desktop Business Unit Paul Lipman. "The focus of PC security has traditionally been on protecting the computer, and not the data stored on it. But it’s the precious personal files – digital photos, music and financial records – that cannot be replaced if they are lost."
According to the Webroot report, the average home PC user has nearly 2,000 digital photos and nearly 2,500 digital music files on their computer. Loss of family photos was the number one concern reported, followed by loss of financial information, text documents and work projects.
"The average number of digital photos stored is roughly equivalent to taking a picture everyday for five years. If those files were suddenly destroyed, that is a lot of personal memories that could be lost." added Lipman. "But equally concerning was the finding that more than half the people we surveyed store financial records on their PCs, many with absolutely no data recovery safeguards in place."
Although 98 percent of PC users surveyed have antivirus protection on their computers and 95 percent use firewall protection, few have safeguards in place for their data. Only 18 percent currently back up data on a regular basis and nearly one in five had never backed up their personal files. The primary reasons cited for not backing up were forgetting that it doesn’t happen automatically and that it takes too long.
A Global Snapshot of Data Loss
- Webroot’s research shows that every day last year at least 126,000 people in the United States and United Kingdom lost files stored on their PCs. That’s the equivalent of the entire city of Hartford, Connecticut
- Nearly half of all PC users (43 percent) have lost digital files or data at some point in their lives
- One in five have lost files in the last two years
- One in 10 have lost files in the last nine months alone
- More than 80 percent of all incidents were caused by hardware failure, human error and software corruption
- Theft is responsible for approximately 9 percent of data loss and natural disasters account for 3 percent
Home PCs Store Vast Amounts of Data
- More than 90 percent of people keep photos on their computers, with an average of 1,788 pictures stored – the equivalent of nearly five years’ worth of photos.
- Almost 70 percent surveyed store an average of 2,420 songs, translating to over $2,400 worth of music at $1 per song, or about 125 hours of time spent downloading CDs
- Over half reported storing financial information on their personal computers
- Nearly three-quarters store work projects on their home PCs
Current Protection Is Not Enough
- 98 percent of PC users have antivirus protection on their home computers, 93 percent have antispyware protection and 95 percent have firewall security
- Despite these measures, 46 million people in the United States and the United Kingdom lost personal files stored on their PCs in 2007 alone
- Only 6 percent surveyed protect their files daily from loss
- Twenty percent have never backed up the data on their personal computers
Tips for Protecting Valuable Files
In order to keep your photos, music and other valuable data safe, Webroot recommends the following:
- Install security software. Viruses and other online threats can corrupt your files and cause system damage or failure. Make sure you have up-to-date antispyware, antivirus and firewall protection.
- Use automatic online backup. Despite the best intentions, research shows that most people will forget to back up their data on a regular basis. Look for an online backup program that provides a "set it and forget it "solution by automatically backing up your files everyday.
- Free isn’t better. Don’t rely on free sites to archive your digital photos. Some have policies of deleting pictures if you don’t access your account within a set time period.
- Backup your laptop and mobile devices. Many people protect data on their primary computers but forget about laptops and other mobile devices. These carry a greater risk of loss and theft, so take extra care to back them up.
- Avoid actions that put data at risk. Don’t open attachments from strangers, avoid questionable Web sites and only download software from sites you trust.
The complete "State of Internet Security: Protecting Your Digital Life" (PDF) report is available at https://www.webroot.com/us/en/
The State of Internet Security report is issued quarterly as an in-depth review and analysis of the most critical computer and data security-related concerns. Each report focuses on a specific aspect of information security, and provides industry data, trends and best practices in light of the threat landscape.
In the "State of Internet Security: Protecting Your Digital Life" report, Webroot surveyed approximately 1,200 PC users in the United States and United Kingdom.