Many Internet Users Lagging on Tech Lingo

Most Internet users know spam when they see it, but the vast majority are unfamiliar with terms like “podcasting,” “phishing,” and “RSS,” according to a recent study.

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The Pew Internet and American Life Project research, based on random telephone interviews with 1,336 Internet users, was called a sobering reality check by experts.  The widespread lack of knowledge of phishing, in particular, alarmed security analysts because the crime has grown so widespread in recent years.

Survey Findings

Here are some of the interesting results from the Pew study:

• 70% of respondents either never heard of phishing or were not sure that it refers to e-mail scams that try to trick users into revealing sensitive information by masquerading as a legitimate bank, credit-card issuer, or other organization.
• 87% said they were unfamiliar with podcasting, which lets everyday users distribute audio files over the Internet for playback any time on computers or digital music players.
• 91% do not know about Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, a technology chiefly used to pull summaries of new entries on news sites and Web journals.
• 22% were unfamiliar with the terms “firewall” and “spyware.”
• 32% had not heard of “Internet cookies.”
• 52% did not know what “adware” is.

Internet experts admitted they will have to re-align their thoughts on how familiar consumers are with Internet terminology.  As one put it, “When you look at the adoption of anything, once a critical mass of people are in the know, they assume that everybody else around them is as aware as they are.”

 © National Security Institute, Inc. – Content excerpted from NSI’s SECURITYsense—a monthly information security awareness service for educating your end users. This copyrighted article is the property of the National Security Institute and may not be reproduced or redistributed in any form without license agreement.  For more information on the SECURITYsense program and to view FREE samples, visit .

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