New Avast Survey Shows Consumers Are Failing to Protect Their Home Networks

Despite the growing number of devices connected to home networks, only 33 percent of households take adequate security precautions

REDWOOD CITY, California, Oct. 22, 2014 – Nearly 80 percent of wired households in the United States have four or more devices connected to a Wi-Fi network, yet only 33 percent use a network security solution beyond a basic firewall, according to a new survey by Avast, maker of the most trusted mobile and PC security in the world. In addition to PCs and laptops, users have mobile devices (26%), printers and scanners (17%), smart TVs (11%), and DVD or Blu-ray players (7%) connected to their Wi-Fi networks.

Surveying more than 2,000 households in the U.S., the Avast report found 88 percent of respondents would be extremely uncomfortable if they found out a neighbor or uninvited guest were secretly logging onto their personal home Wi-Fi network. Yet many do not take the precautions necessary to secure their home networks. Additionally, 11 percent reported that they have themselves used a neighbor’s Wi-Fi network without the neighbor’s knowledge or permission.

All told, 14 percent of respondents don’t know if they use a solution to protect their home network and 12 percent are certain they don’t use one. The survey identified a host of other unsecure behaviors, including:

  • 17 percent of respondents use the same username and password for their router as they do for their password-protected websites.
  • 23 percent use the default password on their router and another 11 percent aren’t sure if they use the default password.
  • One-fifth of all respondents use some of the most basic passwords, including their address, name, phone number, a significant other’s birthday, child’s name, pet’s name or their street name as part of their password.
Avast global research found that more than half of all routers are poorly protected by common, easily-hacked passwords, and one in fifty offers easy entry for hackers via an “open door” to the Internet. According to the survey, less than half of Americans strongly believe their home network is secure and 16 percent of respondents reported that they have fallen victim to hackers.

Consumers are connecting more and more smart devices like TVs, watches, and thermostats to the Internet, causing a shift in security needs from PC to the home network. With this shift the home network has become a central computing hub. Yet today’s router security situation is very reminiscent of PCs in the 1990s, with trivial vulnerabilities being discovered every day. Consumers need strong yet simple-to-use tools that can prevent attacks before they happen.

Survey respondents reported that the consequences of a breach could be severe, and reported that they most concerned about their bank or financial information being stolen (42%), losing personal information (33%), having their browsing history stolen (11%), and getting their photos hacked (9%).