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Surfers Still Ignorant of Security Risks

Posted: 26th Aug, 2005 By: MarkJ
New MORI research finds that the UK public is largely ignorant of the threats they face online, with men being more likely to fall prey to online scams, spam and viruses than women.

The research, commissioned by StreamShield Networks, revealed that just 16% of the public had heard of the term ‘key loggers’ – malicious programs that easily infect PCs and record confidential password details. Furthermore, only 24% had heard of the term ‘phishing’ – bogus emails purporting to be from one’s bank asking for account information, with the intention of stealing funds.

The poll also revealed that over a third (34%) of the British public have been a victim of a computer virus, 36% received excessive spam and 21% had experienced images they found to be ‘offensive’. Less threatening programs such as spyware which track Internet site visits and adware which make ‘pop up’ adverts appear were still a significant problem with 16% and 11% of the population respectively having knowingly been infected.

The research went on to ask the respondents who, if anyone, they think is responsible for educating people about threats on the Internet. The public strongly believe this responsibility lies with the Internet service providers (ISPs) with 59% citing it as their duty. Parents (46%), the Government (40%) and schools (39%) also scored highly, with 40% saying it was up to the individual to take educate themselves.

Similarly a survey of the gender gap between existing Internet surfers (not the overall public, as above) found that women experienced fewer difficulties when online. For example, 46% of men reported that their PC had been infected with a virus compared with 38% of women, and 50% of men experienced excessive spam versus 38% of women. Men also experienced more unwanted pop up ads, with 74% reporting this compared with 69% of women.

In addition, whilst 29% of male PC and Internet users reported having received a fraudulent email from a source pretending to be a financial institution asking for their banking details, this was true of only 16% of female users. Similarly, whilst 8% of men had experienced online fraud, only 4% of women had been victims.

Despite these figures there is some positive news for men as they appear to have better overall awareness of Internet threats. For instance, nearly all (97%) male PC and Internet users know what a computer virus is versus 92% of female users. The same is also true of other terms including Spyware (66% of men are aware of the term compared with 47% of women), Adware (51% men, 29% women), Phishing (37% men, 18% women) and Key loggers (27% men, 10% women).

It’s strange that men should be more aware of threats, yet less able to protect against them. Lies, damn lies and statistics, as they say =).
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