PerspectiveComputer Science

Is Your Computer Secure?

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Science  31 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5940, pp. 550-551
DOI: 10.1126/science.1168661

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Cybersecurity is a pressing global issue today and increasingly affects all of us. According to a recent estimate, each U.S. adult had a 66% chance of experiencing at least one data exposure in 2008 and a 30% chance of experiencing multiple such exposures (1). A key motivator for cyber attackers is financial gain; a study of the underground economy observed advertisements for over $276 million in total “goods” (such as stolen credit card information) during a recent 1-year period (2). The annual cost to companies due to intellectual property theft and repair after data breaches has been estimated at over $1 trillion globally (3). Yet, in a study of consumer's personal computers, only 37% had up-to-date anti-malicious software (malware) protection; of those, 23% had active malware infections (4). What are the key cybersecurity dangers today, and how can they be addressed?