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IT security indifference endemic amongst consumers.

PC Tools : 29 November, 2007  (Technical Article)
PC Tools survey reveals that despite high levels of awareness of computer security, few consumers modify their online behaviour accordingly.
PC Tools has released the findings from a worldwide survey of more than 25,000 respondents of which 4,412 were from the UK.

Results revealed that despite customers having a high level of awareness regarding online security and the requisite computer security products, consumers are demonstrating widespread indifference to other preventative measures. This result comes despite an overwhelming number of respondents reporting that their computer had been infected by a malicious threat.

UK consumers surveyed were aware of the security threats posed by social networking sites, emails and downloads such as viruses, spyware, malware, spam, firewalls and trojans, for example. Yet an alarming 50% of UK consumers surveyed indicated that they continue to download and file share regardless of the known risks, despite the fact that 80% of respondents had reported that their computer had been infected by malicious threats.

"The fact PC Tools' website visitors - who are at least aware and in most cases well informed of the risks - are unconcerned s suggests that we can expect a significantly greater problem among the general public, exposing consumers to financial loss and identity theft," said Simon Clausen, Chief Executive Officer, PC Tools.

"This research has confirmed our belief that the industry must approach computer security and cyber crime from an educational perspective. Unfortunately, it's not so simple - consumers need to want to be educated. All too often it takes an incidence of an attack involving identity theft or monetary loss for it to affect real behavioural change," said Clausen.

PC Tools warns that, if users insist on file sharing or other risky online activities, it is critical that they deploy real time behavioural-based protection, such as Spyware Doctor, or the free ThreatFire

The following research confirms PC Tools' UK website visitors have a high level of awareness about computer security:.

• Only 8% of UK respondents were unaware of the associated risks of downloading and file sharing.
• 92% of UK respondents understand the term computer virus.
• 87% of UK respondents understand the term spyware.
• 71% of UK respondents have both anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on their computers.
• 88% of UK respondents are confident that their computers are protected but 50% still engage in file sharing through downloads and social networking sites.
• 50% of UK respondents scan their computers for spyware and viruses weekly, while 38% do so daily.
• 72% of UK respondents have real-time blocking protection.

This survey was conducted online by PC Tools' newsletter subscribers between September 2007 and November 2007. 25,506 people responded worldwide, with 4,412 UK respondents.

This survey was a customer-based survey so may not be reflective of the Australian public as a whole. We could expect that PC Tool's customers are likely to have much greater knowledge about emerging threats and security protection.
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