Internet users are getting better at protecting themselves, but are still not doing enough to keep PCs and identities secure when surfing, according to the fourth annual UK Internet Security State of the Nation report from Get Safe Online.
The release of the report marks the start of Get Safe Online Week, which aims to further raise awareness about minimising the risks of online fraud, while maximising the internet's possibilities.
Get Safe Online said that working adults on an average salary can be worth £14,500 per fraud attempt to online criminals through directly plundering bank accounts, cloning credit cards or creating fraudulent credit accounts.
"The internet is now an integral part of daily life for the majority of people and businesses in the UK," said Tony Neate, managing director of Get Safe Online.
"Understanding the threats and taking steps to minimise the risks is becoming a natural part of our online behaviour. With internet crime, however, there is no room for complacency."
The research found that most of us are doing more to protect our PCs and our online identities. However, although 85 per cent of people now have some sort of anti-virus installed, almost half do not update it frequently enough to ensure it remains effective.
Furthermore, almost a quarter do not have any anti-spyware protection, and nearly one in five use just one password for all the secure sites they visit.
Neate stressed at the Get Safe Online Summit in London this morning that it is important to educate people, but not to scare them.
"The internet is a great place to be. We are actively encouraging more people to go online, but to ensure that they are safe and secure," he said.
"We want to draw attention to the fact that online criminal activity can be a sophisticated business, but that each of us can take steps to prevent ourselves from becoming a victim."
This sentiment was echoed by a panel of speakers at the summit who all stressed that a balanced approach needs to be taken to all aspects of online security.
It is important to educate people and make them aware, but not scare them to the point where they switch off completely. An estimated 14 per cent of Britons avoid the internet altogether, according to the research.
Similarly the panel pointed out that technology can only go far and that it is just as important for people and processes to be part of the entire security story.
To help further educate users about using the internet safely and reducing the chance of being infected or having their identity stolen, Get Safe Online has revamped its web site to make it easier for people to pick up tips about online safety and security.
These include guides to installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software, setting up a firewall, ensuring that the operating system and web browser is up to date, blocking spam emails, creating back ups and encrypting wireless networks.
"If internet users invest a relatively small amount of time and money in ensuring that they are fully protected and up-to-date, the risk of such financial loss is almost negligible," said Neate.
"To install the essential software and learn about the key safety measures on the Get Safe Online website takes a matter of a few hours, a small but worthwhile inconvenience compared to the potential loss."
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