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Comcast: “US underestimates frequency of cyber threats”

December 1, 2020

Internet users in the US vastly underestimate how often their home networks are targeted by cyber threats. That’s one of the key findings of the first-ever Xfinity Cyber Health Report, which combines data from a new consumer survey with actual threat data collected by the xFi Advanced Security platform.

As part of the report’s findings, Comcast announced that since January, xFi Advanced Security has blocked nearly six billion cybersecurity threats – representing an average of about 104 cybersecurity threats per home per month – protecting Xfinity Internet consumers from malicious threats targeting their home networks and the devices connected to them.

“The cyber threats facing even the most lightly connected homes have grown so numerous and so complex, that ordinary people can barely keep track, much less protect themselves,” said Noopur Davis, Chief Product and Information Security Officer, Comcast. “That’s why it’s essential that we provide people with smart, powerful tools, like xFi Advanced Security, that can spot and stop threats before they ever make it inside the home.”

Xfinity xFi users have on average 12 devices per home and added two devices over the past year, while high-end users have as many as 33 devices and added five since last year. And 61 per cent of consumers plan to buy at least one connected device during the upcoming holiday shopping season. With the number of connected devices in the home increasing, cybersecurity protection has never been more important.

The Xfinity Cyber Health Report summarises the threats xFi Advanced Security has blocked for Xfinity Internet customers and the devices in their connected homes, providing an industry view into threats experienced by consumers. Key report findings include:

  • Consumers Underestimate Attack Volume: 95 per cent of survey respondents underestimated the volume of attacks they face each month. The average volume indicated by respondents was 12 attacks per month. In reality, xFi Advanced Security blocks nine times that amount or an average of 104 security threats per month per household.
  • Mix of Devices Most Targeted: According to xFi Advanced Security data, the top five most vulnerable devices in connected homes are: 1) Computers & Laptops, 2) Smart Phones, 3) Networked Cameras, 4) Networked Storage Devices, 5) Streaming Video Devices.
  • Consumer Disconnect on Cybersafe Behaviour: 96 per cent of consumers surveyed were not familiar with how to answer six basic true/false cyberthreat questions. Further, a large majority (85 per cent) of respondents indicated they are taking all the necessary security precautions needed to protect their home networks, and yet a clear majority (64 per cent) admitted to behaviors like sharing passwords with friends and family that open themselves up to attack.
  • No Screen Means More Risk: What many people don’t realise is that connected devices can pose a security risk. Cyber criminals target them because many have little or no security protection and devices without screens can be more easily hacked without the consumer even knowing it. More than four in five consumers (83 per cent) would not be 100 per cent confident they’d know if one of their non-screen devices – such as a wireless printer or security camera – had been hacked.

In addition, the report includes a technology primer authored by the Chief Technology Officer at Comcast cybersecurity technology partner CUJO AI, about the rise of AI-based cyber threats; insight from Larry Maccherone, distinguished engineer and leader of DevSecOps at Comcast, on building security into products from the beginning, rather than “bolting on” after they launch; and five actionable tips from Patti Loyack, Vice President, xFi, Comcast, on how consumers can protect themselves.

Comcast’s xFi Advanced Security service was made free for all 20 million xFi customers across all of Comcast’s service areas in January. This product was developed based on customer feedback requesting a way to protect IoT devices in this connected home era. It uses AI and machine learning technology to monitor and analyse WiFi traffic in the home, and automatically blocks identified suspicious activity in real time. To activate this service, Xfinity xFi customers can log onto the Xfinity app and enable xFi Advanced Security.

Categories: AI, Broadband, Consumer Behaviour, Research