Over one in five European computer users have fallen victim to cyber-crime, according to new research.
Some 22 per cent of 7,000 PC users surveyed by Ipsos for AVG Technologies had experienced some form of cyber-crime.
Italians fared worst with 32 per cent of users affected, closely followed by the UK with 31 per cent.
The study noted that more Europeans believe that they are likely to experience cyber-crime (34 per cent) than burglary (22 per cent), assault (19 per cent) or robbery (25 per cent).
Almost half of all Germans believe that they are likely to be a victim of cyber-crime (47 per cent). No other crime accounted for more than 20 per cent.
J R Smith, chief executive at AVG Technologies, said: "In the space of a few years the nature of the threat has changed from a sport to professional criminal activity.
"The challenge for us now is to deliver security with a light touch that does not stifle innovation.
"With the world flattening and borders disappearing online, it becomes critical for businesses and home users to know that they can safely conduct transactions online."
AVG is supporting calls to action by the European Network and Information Security Agency, and has urged the industry to collaborate to make the internet a safe place to do business globally.
"Just as environmental policies are only truly effective when people and organisations get together, securing the web, by its very nature, should be a collaborative undertaking," said Smith.
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