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Survey: Most home PC users lack security

Some 81 percent lack at least one of three critical types of security, but use of firewalls and antivirus software is improving.

A survey of home PC users found 81 percent lacked at least one of three critical types of security, but the number of consumers using firewalls and updated antivirus software is improving, according to a report released Wednesday.

The vast majority of consumers surveyed were found to lack at least one of three types of critical security--a firewall, updated antivirus software or anti-spyware protection, according to a report by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Of this group, 56 percent had no antivirus software, or had not updated it within a week, while 44 percent did not have a firewall properly configured, according to the report. Meanwhile, 38 percent of survey respondents lacked spyware protection.

"Even though most consumers think they are protected, this study shows the opposite," Ron Teixeira, National Cyber Security Alliance executive director, said in a statement. "Far too many people still lack the three fundamental protections they need to stay safe online."

Nonetheless, some improvements have been made. The number of homes with properly configured firewall protections rose to 56 percent from 28 percent a year ago.

The improvements were attributed to the default firewall that is installed with Windows XP Service Pack 2, according to the survey.

The percentage of home PC users with recently updated antivirus software on their computers rose to 44 percent this year, compared with 33 percent a year ago. And, the number of PCs with spyware and adware loaded onto their systems fell to 61 percent this year from 80 percent last year.