The US-based National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) today published research revealing that 71 per cent of consumers are dangerously ignorant when it comes to protecting themselves against botnets.
Describing the results as "alarming", NCSA noted that botnets are rapidly becoming the cyber criminals' weapon of choice and the internet's fastest growing threat.
"Last June, the FBI identified more than one million computers infected with malware which could have been hijacked and used as part of an army of bots to attack other computers, spread malware, or attack our nation's infrastructure," said Ron Teixeira, executive director of the NCSA.
"Botnets continue to be an increasing threat to consumers and homeland security. Consumers' unsecured computers play a major role in helping cyber criminals conduct cyber crimes not only on the victim's computer, but also against others connected to the internet."
The study also reveals that Americans are largely unaware their computer's security plays a role in the nation's security and preventing online crime. A majority of respondents think it is not likely their computer could affect homeland security, while only 51 per cent think it is possible for a hacker to use their computer to launch cyber attacks.
"It is alarming that consumers do not know how to secure their computers," said Teixeira.
"It is important for consumers to understand that safe cyber security practices not only protect them from identity theft, but also prevent cyber crime and attacks. By taking simple steps, consumers can protect themselves from cyber crimes and join our effort to protect other internet users."