Don't Know Much About Cyber Security? You're Not The Only One

Earlier this year The Pew Research Center carried out a survey to assess how familiar people are with cyber security. With most respondents having little to no knowledge when it comes to the protection of online data, the results were troubling, though not surprising.

The survey consisted of 13 multiple choice questions and involved a group of internet users aged 18 and above.

Age made very little difference to respondents’ cybersecurity knowledge, with people aged 18 to 49 answering six questions correctly on average, compared to those aged 50 to 65+ getting five questions correct on average.

Just four questions were answered correctly by more than 50% of the people who took part, and just one person got all the answers right. Many respondents seemed reluctant to answer questions they were unsure of, with more people indicating they were unsure of a particular answer rather than guessing and getting it wrong.

Here are some of the questions the survey asked. If you’d prefer to test your knowledge rather than uncovering some of the answers below, you can take the cyber security knowledge quiz here.


Multi-factor authentication

The survey asked people to choose from four images and identify the one that showed an example of multi-factor authentication. Just 10% of respondents answered correctly, while 71% got the answer wrong and 18% weren’t sure.


Virtual private networks

Respondents were asked: “What kind of cybersecurity risks can be minimised by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?”

Thirteen percent answered the question correctly and said ‘the use of insecure Wi-Fi networks’, 16% got it wrong and 70% weren’t sure enough to answer.



The survey asked: “What does the https:// at the beginning of a URL denote, as opposed to http:// without the s?” A third (33%) of respondents answered the question correctly, explaining that the ‘s’ in https means that communication between the user and website is encrypted using a form of encryption called Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Meanwhile, 12% got the answer wrong and 54% weren’t sure.


Email encryption

The survey asked respondents whether all email is encrypted by default. Forty-six percent of those who took part in the survey correctly identified the answer as ‘false’, 10% were incorrect and 43% were unsure of the answer.



To test respondents’ knowledge of phishing, the survey asked which of three descriptions correctly described a phishing attack. Fifty four percent of people correctly replied “all three statements”, while 21% got the answer wrong and 24% weren’t sure.


Tracking a smartphone’s location with GPS

The survey asked: “True or false: Turning off the GPS function of your smartphone prevents any tracking of your phone’s location.” More than half (52%) correctly answered ‘false’, 2% got it wrong and 26% were unsure.


Secure passwords

The survey asked respondents to choose which of four passwords were most secure. Seventy five percent got the answer correct, 8% were wrong and 17% weren’t sure.

To ensure your data is protected, take a look at our guide to creating strong and secure passwords.


If your cyber security knowledge is limited, don’t worry. By getting in touch with our team of IT support technicians, you can outsource your company’s security measures. We’ll worry about your IT security so that you can focus on your own areas of expertise. Please contact us to learn more.