McAfee: One in Five PCs Lack Virus Protection

By | Jun 8, 2012

In 1975, IBM released the first "portable" computer. It weighed 55 pounds and cost just under $20,000. Adjusting for inflation, it would cost more than triple that as of 2012. We've come a long way since then; computers are now as small as the size of one's hand--and you don't have to take out a loan at the bank to purchase one. But despite the ubiquity of mobile devices, consumers still aren't as tech-savvy as one might assume--and this can spell danger for businesses that overestimate the technical knowledge of the average employee.

According to a recent report from McAfee, just under one-fifth of PCs in the U.S. are unprotected. Seven percent of those had an antivirus installed with a lapsed subscription, while the remaining 12 percent lacked an antivirus program altogether.

The data was collected from 27 million PCs across 24 countries. Unlike previous studies, in which the software developer polled their users, McAfee instead scanned PCs for antivirus software. The results were quite a bit different this time around; according to InfoWord, "user polls have typically found that six percent of PCs are not protected by antivirus software."

Despite expectations, countries like the United States, Japan, Canada, and China had some of the lowest rates of antivirus protection, while Finland, Italy, Germany, and New Zealand had the highest percentages of protected computers. "We thought for sure the U.S. and Japan would be at top of protected countries, but they were actually at the bottom," said Gary Davis, Director of Global Consumer Product Marketing at McAfee.

The increasing consumerization of IT might lead business executives to believe that workers possess sound knowledge of the dangers that modern PCs face. But while most consumers understand how to use their devices to send emails or texts, download files, or perform other personal or business-related tasks, that doesn't mean they know what goes on behind the scenes.

Take, for example, the discrepancy between the results of this most recent study and the results of past user polls. Most consumers know that it's important to have an active antivirus application installed, but regardless, they still fail to keep up with basic security.

Midsize businesses intending to adopt a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) plan cannot just assume that workers will be careful when using their devices for personal purposes; top-notch security measures are critical. Organizations that are lax about implementing security on employee devices and fail to regularly educate workers on emerging threats will end up paying the price when important data ends up lost or compromised.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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