As the fourth annual Get Safe Online Week begins in the UK, a survey reveals that British attitudes to online security remain lax, with 77% of PC systems not having any anti-spyware software installed.

The survey, conducted for Get Safe Online, which aims to raise awareness of online security threats facing both home and business users, revealed that one in every four people surveyed did not use any form of anti-spyware software whilst nearly half of all respondents did not have any form of anti-phishing protection.

The research, contucted by ICM Research, also claimed that a typical British web user was worth around £14,500 to online criminals.

The report revealed some startling complacencies that British users have towards online security, such as:

  • 85% of users have some form of antivirus software but 48% of users fail to update their software at least once a month.
  • Only 23% of users in the UK have anti-spyware protection installed on their PC.
  • Almost half of users (47%) do not have any form of anti-phishing protection although 23% said that they, or someone that they knew, had fallen victim to such an attack. In 2007, that figure was just 8%.
  • 19% of users use just one password for all of their online accounts.

Figures also estimated that fraudsters and online criminals could extract an anverage of £14,500 from UK internet users.

The figure was based on the account of an average UK salary earner (£23,764 per year) holding three months salary in the account at any given point. In addition, the UK average of credit cards (2.4 cards per person aged over 18 years) with limits of £3,500 per card was also factored in, boosting the figure by £8,400.

Tony Neate, managing director of, said that the report highlighted that Brits need to take internet security more seriously.

“We are actively encouraging more people to go online, but in doing so, to ensure that they are safe and secure,” he said.

“If internet users invest a relatively small amount of time and money in ensuring they are fully protected and up-to-date, the risk of such financial loss is almost negligible,” he added.

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