A recent survey shows consumers are totally confused about the level of online threats and how best to protect themselves.
The study from online shopping portal MutualPoints showed that of the 9,790 people surveyed almost all claimed to have taken steps to protect their computer and 88 per cent felt they had adequate security.
Nearly all said they had installed anti-virus software on their PCs, while 93 per cent said they had a firewall running.
Just over four fifths (85.5 per cent) claimed to have anti-spyware software installed on their computers.
Over 90 per cent of those questioned claimed to understand the meaning of virus, hacker and spyware, while over 80 per cent were aware of the terms Trojan and worm.
Because the MutualPoints findings totally contradict other surveys, including the Sophos Security Threat Management Report Update report issued yesterday, and another from StreamShield Networks about the problem of zombie PCs on home PCs, it is obvious many consumers do not understand what this security software protects them from.
MutualPoints found nearly half of consumers believed they had no anti-hacker protection. Around two thirds (64.9 per cent) said they had failed to install anti-abuse software to block unwanted and malicious email and offensive online content.
"If you look at the findings in relation to recent surveys it could well be that while consumers think they have their online security covered there could well be a real gap in terms of what they think they have running and what is actually running.
"A logical conclusion from these findings and the other surveys is the lack of understanding consumers have about their actual online security," a representative for MutualPoints told Computeractive.
Graham Clueley, senior technician for security company Sophos , agreed that the security message was obviously not getting through. He suggested because of the lower risks, home users should consider buying an Apple Mac when getting a new computer.
"The number of people in the MutualPoints survey claiming to have security software was too high. Most people don't have all this software and even those that do don't update it regularly.
"It is no good saying you have anti-virus software and then wondering why it doesn't work if it is out of date," he said.
He went on to say that the continued infection of home PCs by old viruses showed by Sophos clearly that consumers have failed to grasp the need to constantly update security software.
He admitted that the technical jargon bothered and bewildered the average consumer.
This could account for the fact that the MutualPoints survey showed that over a third of UK consumers still don't understand the term phishing; currently the most prolific kinds of internet fraud.
"Without a doubt there is a buzzword jungle out there making it difficult for the average home PC user to understand what is going on because of all the jargon," said Clueley.
"The consumers aren't listening to us [the security industry]. Maybe the next time they buy a computer they should consider buying a Mac; the security threats are far lower," he said.
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By Dinah Greek on Jul 7, 2006 1:46PM