How comfortable are you with this online survey?
“Dear Greg,” said the email. “As a sponsor of e-Security Awareness Week — an Australian federal government initiative — Symantec invites you to take part in this national survey.”
At first glance, I really wasn’t sure what to make of this particular electronic request.
Of course, Symantec is the sponsor, not me personally, which was relief to my somewhat miniscule budget for these sorts of things. Then there’s my .co.nz email address, which should have been a dead giveaway that I lived on the right side of the Tasman (‘right’ in both senses of the word, that is) – so my Kiwi input may not be entirely relevant.
Nonetheless, if they couldn’t find enough people over there to add their two-cents’ worth, then who am I to argue – anything to help out our e-mates in Aussie. (And any rumours that I was ‘creative’ with my answers to stuff up their results are scurrilous lies … the fact that it crossed my mind is beside the point.)
“The survey should take about 10-15 minutes to complete,” it added for good measure.
“Many services are now delivered online and we are sending more personal data over the internet,” the preamble began. “The survey aims to measure how comfortable everyone is with this evolution.”
The opening few questions were along the lines of what type of area did I live in (obviously an urban versus rural thing going on here) and what type of internet connection did I use.
When it came to my ‘perception’ of its speed, however, I was a little disappointed with the options: slow, medium or fast. Aren’t these a bit too touchy-feely to have any statistical merit? Slow or fast as compared to what? We once all thought 14.4 Kbps was fast.
Then there was a question about whether or not I found myself helping others (when it comes to computer stuff, that is) or being the one getting the help. If the intention is to sort the Geeks from the Gumps, doesn’t it depend on what the problem is?
Thankfully, as much fun as this was, I eventually struck a question about security.
Q. “How comfortable are you about providing personal details online? Uncomfortable, neutral, comfortable, don’t care?”
Now, for me, being either comfortable, neutral or uncomfortable is perfectly fine. At least you’re thinking about it. But as for the “don’t cares”, well…
Q. “What level of online protection do you believe is necessary to be safe?”
Unfortunately, “there’s no such thing as ‘safe’” was not an option. Next.
Q. “How confident are you that you would recognise a fraudulent website if you came across one?”
Er, crap ones stick out a mile; but good ones could probably fool most of us.
I did find the last question particularly odd:
Q. “Where do you think is the safest place to keep your digital photos and videos?” CD/DVD/memory stick? Hard drive? Personal website? Other?
What do you think?
All in all, I was glad I could help, even if I felt some of the questions left a bit to be desired — and I’m the probably not eligible for the prize at the end of it, either.
How comfortable should we be with the results (because they’ll end up being touted over here soon enough)? Well, whether Symantec ends up with meaningful insights or self-serving outsights, after a mere 20 click-the-box questions, I’m bloody worried about anyone who took 15 minutes to answer.