Australians risking online threats

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A security vendor survey has suggested that most Australians use the internet for bill-paying and personal banking but don't take adequate precautions against online threats.

A security vendor survey has suggested that most Australians use the internet for bill-paying and personal banking but don't take adequate precautions against online threats.

Security vendor Symantec hired a company called Bread and Butter Research and Planning to do the poll of about 300 consumers in Australia and 200 in New Zealand, aged 18 to 55.

All respondents used the internet at home for non business purposes, Symantec said in a statement.

The poll found that most respondents used the internet "mostly" for email, personal banking and paying bills. Seeking information from directories, on hobbies, travel, entertainment, downloading music and shopping were secondary uses.

"Seventy-five per cent of the total respondents pass their personal details, such as bank accounts, credit card or tax file numbers, over the internet," Symantec said.

Of those claiming to have software protection 35 per cent did not feel properly protected and 27 per cent didn’t know, the company said.

"Sixteen per cent of the total respondents do not take any proactive steps to check for online fraud," it added. "New Zealand users are less likely to make any regular checks."

Some 19 per cent of respondents had no security software at all and didn’t know when pre-installed lapses occurred, Symantec said.

Yet some 52 per cent of the total respondents perceived online security risks to have increased, with 24 per cent limiting their internet activity due to related concerns, the poll found.

Some 20 per cent of the total respondents had visited a fraudulent website. Another 40 per cent were unsure whether or not they had ever visited a fraudulent website, the poll found.

Symantec said concerns about online security risks had affected behaviour. It was possible the respondents would use online services more if they felt safer. Some 75 percent of those polled claimed they avoided downloading material.

"Forty-eight per cent would avoid shopping on certain websites to avoid online security risks, while 18 per cent would avoid shopping online [altogether]," the company said.

Sixty percent said they avoided giving out personal details online. About 52 percent avoided "providing" their email addresses. Some 58 percent steered clear of "certain websites", the vendor said.
 
"Only one percent of the total respondents claimed not to have experienced any internet issues," Symantec said.

"Ninety-six per cent of respondents claimed they had been affected by spam, 85 per cent by adware, 77 per cent by viruses, 59 per cent by spyware and 44 per cent by phishing."

Fifty-three percent of Australian respondents were "affected" by phishing attacks. In New Zealand, only 30 percent were "affected" by phishing scams.

"Thirty-four per cent of Australians received spam emails more than six times a day, in comparison to New Zealand [that had] only 23 per cent," Symantec said.
 
Some 60 per cent of Australian respondents had bought security software. Only 47 per cent of  New Zealand respondents had bought any. Respondents under the age of 35 were less likely to buy security software, Symantec said.

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