According to the Trust and growth in the online environment report released today by Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan, 10 million Australians (from a total Internet population of 12.6 million and a national population of 20.4 million) now regularly use the Internet for transactions. Online bookings were the most popular, followed by bill payments, online banking and general shopping.
However, while 55 percent of transacting Internet users said they were concerned about general Internet security, only 32 percent bothered to regularly update their anti-virus software, and just 14 percent used firewall software. This was despite the fact that 66 percent reported experiencing a virus attack, the most common negative online experience after spam (79 percent).
In sum, 49 percent used just one protective measure, 35 percent used multiple approaches, seven percent used nothing and nine percent didn't have a clue what they were doing.
"While an increasing number of people recognise the benefits of the online environment, this research shows that Australians should become more aware of the need for safe and secure online practices," Senator Coonan said in a statement announcing the report, which was based on a survey conducted across 1500 Internet users by Telstra division Sensis in May this year. No new initiatives to combat the low level of security awareness were announced in response to the data.
Usage rates for the Internet appear to be rising rapidly. In a report issued last month and based on April data, DCITA said that 67 per cent of Australians aged over 14 used the Internet, and 59 percent of that group used the Internet for transactions. In the latest survey, that number has risen to 79 percent.