Brits are world's most paranoid web users

Connected web users in the UK are more concerned with their online safety than users from any other country in the world, research suggests.

In an international study, entitled How do users assess threats on the Internet?, published today by Internet insecurity outfit G Data, British web-heads are shown to be decidedly more paranoid about their online activities than users in any other land.

Over 94 per cent of UK web users interrogated said they have security software installed on their machines. Least worried were the Russians but, still, 83 per of those questioned also had some protection, suggesting that the daily flow of scaremongering stories from security firms is having some effect.

Dr Grainne Kirwan, Lecturer in Cyberpsychology at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology suggested as much. She reckons the finding, "could perhaps be explained in part by factors which researchers have found to be related to the intention to practice online security. These factors include the perceived usefulness of the security software, influences from family, peers and the mass media - so if users hear a lot about the importance of online security measures and the dangers of poor protection by these sources, then they're more likely to take suitable precautions.

"The user needs to feel that they have the appropriate skills and knowledge to install and run the right online protection instruments,” she continues. “It would seem that UK Internet users have the right combination of these factors, which is a very positive thing for improving their online security.”

UK web users are the most likely to use a full security suite, while most other countries stick to an anti-virus package. Some 65 per cent of UK respondents claimed to have full protection, this compares again to users in Russia, where the figure was just 40 per cent.

“In the case of Internet security, a healthy dose of paranoia can be a good thing," said James Coombes of G Data. Good for him as he's in the business of flogging security software.

The study investigated and analysed the behaviour of almost 16,000 web users in 11 countries, G Data said.