Net security leaves Aussies feeling vulnerable

Australian consumers are feeling insecure when it comes to internet security concerns and practices according to a survey conducted on behalf of Symantec.

The survey found that 98 per cent of respondents believe the Internet is not safe.

"It's an interesting finding because it's both a mixture of awareness, lack of knowledge and experience," said Symantec senior director of consumer and small business, David Freer.

Among the key findings, 49 percent had received damaging viruses, 45 percent reported having spyware, 20 percent said a virus had disabled the anti virus software and 8 percent had their computers accessed by a hacker.

Although only 4 percent of respondents had personal or banking information retrieved from their computer without authorisation, 49 percent believed their personal and banking information would be accessed at some stage.

"eBusiness and eCommerce have transformed into the new business and commerce," Freer said. "The internet is used for everything nowadays, so it's understandable that people are concerned about security on the net."

He said the phishing of bank details was the biggest growth area. Phishing is a form of internet fraud where a fake website is created that mirrors a legitimate one to trick users into submitting valuable information such as credit card or banking details.

"The big challenge is that these phishing sites have a very short life, maybe three hours. They send out perhaps a million emails and net a small percentage of people and then pull the site down," Freer said.

"It's really a consumer issue because the banks have excellent security on their systems. Hackers are able to get right to the consumer without alerting them through the use of key loggers or trojans."

Although 86 percent of respondents had antivirus software on their home PCs and 76 percent had firewalls, Freer warned that as threats evolve simple solutions would not be enough.

"Companies have to go beyond protecting the PC. Software needs to protect and identify the people using these services. Behavioural profiling of people and their habits will be the key to security," he said.

The survey was conducted by Arnold and Bolingbroke in January and February this year, and collated data from 518 Australian internet users aged between 18 to 39.

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