Survey: Half of Americans Don’t Use Antivirus Software

June 7, 2018

Nearly half of Americans haven’t installed basic Internet security software, according to a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

The survey, which included results from 4,290 respondents in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., attempted to measure consumers’ ability to protect themselves from various online criminal attacks. Cyber hygiene is an individual’s ability to maintain a high level of readiness in order to prevent, detect and respond to cyber-related attacks such as malware, phishing, ransomware and identity/credential theft.

In addition to not using antivirus software, the survey found other risky online behaviors include:

  • Sharing account passwords
  • Using too-simple passwords or reusing the same password for multiple accounts
  • Not using an ad or pop-up blocker
  • Opening emails, clicking links and downloading files from unknown sources
  • Not installing security on mobile devices

According to the survey, Floridians have the distinction of being the riskiest with the lowest cyber hygiene index. Other states falling into the “riskiest” bucket were Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, Illinois and California. The states viewed as “safest” were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Utah, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Here are more specific stats from residents in the five riskiest states:

  • Identity theft had little to no impact on their cyber hygiene habits. That means even after learning the consequences first hand, very few people changed their habits.
  • These states had the highest per-person average (28 percent) of having experienced 10+ malware infections in a single year.
  • 50 percent+ of respondents in Florida, Illinois, Montana, and 45 percent of respondents from New Mexico and Wyoming said they don’t use any kind of antivirus or internet security.
  • 47 percent of respondents never back up their data.
  • An average of 72 percent share their passwords.

The five safest states have these common behaviors that keep them safer from online criminals:

  • Following cases of identity theft, nearly 80 percent of respondents from the five safest states reported that they had altered their online habits, and almost 60 percent changed their passwords.
  • Only 14.4 percent of respondents the safe states experienced 10 or more infections a year.
  • The safest states typically reported running paid-for antivirus/security solutions, rather than freeware, unlike their risky counterparts.
  • Finally, nearly half (43 percent) of the five safest states automatically update their operating systems, and 35 percent of respondents regularly back up their data, either on a daily or continuous basis.
  • Of the top 4 states, password sharing was hardly an issue (88 percent of respondents from those states reported they don’t share passwords at all.)


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