Home > Computer Security > Why do people ignore computer security like they do preventive medicine?

Why do people ignore computer security like they do preventive medicine?

In order to live a health life, I’m going to make a big assumption that everyone knows they need to eat right, exercise and visit their doctors and dentist on a regular basis. Everyone learns these things in school, many start ignoring these things in college and by the time many join the workforce, they’re paving the way to an early grave by completely ignoring everything they’ve learned.  While everyone wants to remain healthy and illness free, many people’s behavior suggests otherwise.  Why is it that so many people don’t start taking care of themselves until something bad happens?

When it comes to computer security, I can’t make any assumptions about people’s knowledge.  I can’t assume they know they’re suppose to be running anti-malware software and applying security patches. I can’t assume people won’t open executable email attachments, fall for phishing schemes or visit malicious Websites. I can’t even assume that people use strong passwords. The only thing I can assume, is that people don’t want their computers to be hacked, they don’t want to be the victim of identify theft and they don’t want anyone tampering with their finances.  So why is it that so many people don’t start thinking about computer security until something bad happens?

There must be something going on in people’s minds to lead them to believe that nothing bad will happen to them. Don’t people know about computers being hacked, identify theft, compromised passwords and phishing from the news? Don’t people pay attention to security advice presented at the end of these news stories? Are people truly so under exposed to information about computer security or do they ignore it like they do stories, information and advice about preventive health?

I’ve never understood why some people are comfortable telling everyone around them that they don’t know a thing about computers. Is it the same reason why people feel comfortable telling others they eat unhealthy food, don’t exercise and can’t remember the last time they saw a doctor or dentist? Perhaps a psychologist knows the answer to this question.

If people don’t take responsibility for learning about computer security and following best practices, they should expect to be hacked – just like those who don’t take care of their body should expect illness and hospitalization.

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  1. Juan Zepeda
    July 18, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Many people just do not realize the risk till it actually happens. Perfect example… hard drives and back ups.
    http://www.onetechtip.com

  2. ITauditSecurity
    July 18, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    MR,
    You’re missing a few MORE tags on a couple previous posts! :)

    Personally, I think that people don’t take responsibility because 1) they don’t understand how computers, security, or attackers work, so they live in denial, and 2) They think that most everyone gets infected and/or has their personal data compromised, so that’s life, and 3) too many of us computer guys bail them out for free when they get screwed (guilty as charged, although I’m better now).

    Also, most people don’t understand how to do simple things like make sure their antivirus is updated, run Adaware & the like, delete temp files, do backups, and defrag their disks–so how are they going to understand how to stay secure? They just aren’t willing to invest the time.

    p.s. I’m going to use this comment as fodder for a post on my own blog, as I did from the comment I left on your “relative jack up your own computer,” so thanks for all the ideas. :)

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