About one in three Americans think it's more likely they'll be audited by the IRS or win the lottery than fall victim to a virus or worm, the non-profit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) said Friday as it released the results of a September survey.
Younger computer users are even more sanguine about their chances: 40 percent of those under 25 think they'll get struck by lightning before malicious code hits their PC.
The NCSA, a group that includes the federal government's Department of Homeland Security Cisco, Dell, Symantec, and eBay among its sponsors, is using the poll to highlight October as "National Cyber Security Awareness Month." The educational effort, which actually kicks off Monday, October 4, is backed by the NCSA's Web site.
"More than 185 million Americans own computers connected to the Internet," said Ken Watson, the chairman of NCSA, in a statement. "Cyber security should become second nature, just like brushing our teeth."
The organization's poll makes it look like Americans don't agree.
"I guess I'd have to say get struck by lightning, 'cause those other things just ain't going to happen to me," said one survey respondent when asked about the probability of a computer security or privacy breach, IRS audit, lottery win, or lightning strike.
Numbers say different. According to the NCSA, the odds of being hit by lightning are approximately one in 294,330,406. The odds of ending up on the wrong end of a worm, virus, or privacy breach, however, are 7 in 10.
NCSA is currently conducting a more in-depth and scientific study in conjunction with America Online, and will release the results of the in-home research -- which will include both a survey and a technical examination