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Brits get online safety savvy

The BCS has found that nine in 10 people take online precautions, but 42 percent still claim to have been infected by a virus
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Written by Tom Espiner, Senior Reporter on

People in the UK have become more safety aware when online, according to the British Computer Society (BCS).

Ninety percent of UK computer users now take action to protect themselves from online threats, a survey conducted on behalf of the BCS has found, while 92 percent of online shoppers take active precautions against fraud.

According to the survey, 52 percent of consumers use secure payment areas on sites, while 51 percent limit their shopping to well-known sites in an effort to avoid fraud.

In total, over 2 million more consumers have begun to shop online in the past year, up from 15.4 to 17.4 million.

"The fact that the British public are ensuring their computers are protected from the potential pitfalls of the Internet is very encouraging," said BCS chief executive David Clarke. "Installing antivirus software and a firewall is vital; likewise using a dedicated payment service, or secure payment area of a Web site when purchasing online."

Users who don't take precautions run the risk of losing files or releasing personal banking information, which could mean they are defrauded or have their ID cloned.

However, online banking is still a major security concern for many people. While 34 percent of home Internet users use online banking and are confident in the security of the service, 32 percent have concerns about security, with approximately half of this group voting with their feet and avoiding it. Twenty-seven percent of people don't use online banking for reasons unconnected with security.

And some UK computer users have suffered security problems. Forty-two percent of home Internet users claim to have been a victim of computer viruses or spyware. A quarter claim to have had their computer infected with spyware and 20 percent have lost data as a result of a computer virus. Eight percent of home Internet users claim to have been a victim of online fraud.

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