As many as 12 million British computer users have been hit with a computer virus, hacker or malware attack in the past six months, according to a new report.
Research by price comparison site moneysupermarket.com revealed that 24% of British PC users have been the victim of a computer security breach despite 95% of those surveyed claiming to have antivirus software already installed on their PC.
Of those who have suffered an attack, 39% described the assault as causing a “major disruption” to their system whilst a further 10% described their attack as “deadly”, rendering their computer unusable.
One in twenty claimed that personal information had been stolen as a result of a malicious attack.
The type of content being viewed by users also appeared to have an effect, with almost one in 10 of those surveyed believing that the attack occurred after accessing an “adult” website.
A fifth of people believed that their virus attack came from general surfing and one in eight from opening unknown files or attachments.
Young males were the most likely group to be victim to a malicious attack, with 38% of those under 20 and 30% of under-20s admitting to experiencing virus problems on their computers.
“People need to be more aware of security threats than ever before,” said James Parker, manager of broadband at moneysupermarket.com.
“Most people use some of their personal details online – whether through internet banking or online shopping – and it’s vital that people take appropriate steps to protect this information and themselves.”
The company recommended that users take greater care over their personal details and email attachments, as well as ensuring that their antivirus software is kept up-to-date.