Computer Crime Research Center


Public Largely Ignorant of Online Dangers Says New Poll

Date: August 26, 2005
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: CCRC staff

LONDON, August 26, 2005 – The UK public is largely ignorant of the threats they face online and subsequently are at greater risk than ever of having their home computers infected with malicious software and suffering dire consequences such as having their bank accounts emptied. 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 Internet has never been so dangerous”, comments Simon Gawne, CEO and founder of StreamShield. “There are a variety of sophisticated scams out there and it’s easy for users’ computers to become infected if they are not kept up-to-date with the latest operating system patches and virus definition updates. Education is the key. Computers can be bewildering and at the moment it seems as if every user, whether they be at home or at work are expected to be experts on the latest threats – which they can’t be.”

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.

Simon Gawne continues: “Clearly the British public believe it is up to the ISPs to do more to protect and educate them and this clearly needs to be addressed. Ultimately, the best solution to the massive online problem is for ISPs to clean all harmful content before it reaches consumers – a capability possible to do today. In this way the public can be protected not just against scams that will leave them out of pocket but also material that can cause offence, as well as everyday annoyances such as spam and ‘pop up’ adverts. To take the water supply as an analogy, this is cleaned by suppliers as a matter of course and

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