Overwhelming majority of PC users feel unsafe when surfing online

Only 8% of consumers in the UK feel perfectly safe using their computer at home according to the latest research from Point Topic.

Concerns over data theft and covert online monitoring may have dominated the headlines recently but the evidence from Point Topic’s research indicates a decrease in the proportion of people doing something about it.

“78% of consumers have some form of anti-virus software and 53% have a firewall but this is actually a drop over the last 6 months. Our previous survey** in the series returned 85% and 56% for users saying they have adopted those precautions,” says John Bosnell, Senior Analyst at Point Topic.

It is difficult to explain what seems to be a counter intuitive trend. Aside from complacency one possibility is that users don’t realise they have protection in place as increasing numbers of ISPs and manufacturers bundle software, firewalls and email filters as standard.

One area that has seen an increase in awareness are phishing and social engineering attacks where a user is persuaded to infect themselves by clicking on a link leading to sites with malicious code or tricked into handing over personal data of their own volition.

“Spammers aren’t going to go away. They will evolve their tactics to beat improved filters and other systems,” continues Bosnell.

“As well as sending out an ever-increasing volume of malicious email, it is likely they will become more reliant on social engineering to bypass some security features. Ultimately there is no security that can protect an individual from their own actions,” he concludes.

The worldwide security industry continues to grow with estimated revenues over $1.4 billion at the start of 2007, up over 50% in 12 months and will continue to grow.