Oxford Study: Public Has False Sense of 'Net Security

A study by Oxford University researchers of  Internet usage in the UK shows that the British public generally underestimates the degree to which they are at risk during electronic transactions.

The study, titled "The Internet in Britain: 2007," was conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute, which studies the social context of Internet usage.

Although public security awareness is increasing, it is not well focused on the real risks, the researchers noted.  Despite rising rates of credit card fraud, Internet scams and spam, malware remains more of a perceived than a real problem to users, researchers found.

The researchers found that of 1,578 respondents, 34 percent reported being infected by "viruses," compared with 43 percent in 2003. Reported phishing attempts rose from 12 percent in 2005 to 17 percent this year. The purchase of misrepresented goods over the Internet rose from 8 percent in 2005 to 9 percent this year.

Spam, however, did not seem to loom large in the study. About 24 percent responded that they receive too much spam, but 26 percent were under the impression that they don't receive any.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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