Survey finds increased awareness of online threats

Monday, 03 May, 2010

RSA, The Security Division of EMC, announced the results of its 2010 Global Online Consumer Security Survey which polled more than 4500 consumers regarding their awareness of online threats, concerns with the safety of their personal information online, their willingness to share it and a desire for better identity protection.

RSA’s survey found that consumer awareness of phishing attacks has doubled since 2007, with the number of Australians who reported falling prey to this problem increasing six times since then. In addition, the survey found that 65% of people who belong to online communities are less likely to share information due to their growing security concerns. In fact, 81% of people using social networking websites were concerned about the safety of their personal information online.

“Fraudsters continue to finetune their array of tactics to infect millions of computers with trojans and other malware,” said Mark Pullen, Country Manager RSA, Australia and New Zealand. “Online criminals are increasingly adept at social engineering to prey on the unsuspecting. There have been countless cases of fraudsters injecting malware into apparently authentic websites in order to infect the devices of those who visit them. While it’s impossible to prevent consumers from visiting such websites, we can do a better job of protecting them when they do.”

In the 2007 survey, 38% of responding consumers said they were aware of the threat of phishing while the latest findings show this figure has doubled to 76% of respondents. The latest figure for Australia was a little higher at 79%. Compared with users in the other 21 countries polled, Australians were as aware or more aware of almost all classes of malware, the single exception was with vishing (voice phishing) where we were at least 10% less aware than the global average. Conversely, we were found to be up to 18% more aware of spyware, adware and worms.

RSA found that 86% of those surveyed globally were worried about the theft of their personal information when online to banks; 64% had a similar concern about healthcare portals; 68% in the case of public sector websites; and 81% for social networking sites. The Australian equivalents are a little more trusting of our banks, somewhat less trusting when dealing online with the government, and seemingly rather careless about social networking.

Perhaps the most promising - but least surprising - understanding to come out of the RSA survey was that consumers expect the hosts of online transaction sites to provide ever better levels of security for them. Fifty per cent of Australians were wary about mobile banking and 90% of all consumers surveyed said they expected banks to monitor all internet transactions. And while privacy concerns are ever present, most users were willing to cede a little privacy in exchange for greater security. Consumers in all 22 countries agreed that their identities should be better protected than with just a simple username and password, and nine out of 10 consumers said they would welcome website hosts offering stronger forms of security.

Mark Pullen said, “Companies and government agencies will increase the ranges of services they offer via the internet and consumers will continue exploiting the time-saving convenience of online interaction, despite the inherent risks. So in order to benefit from what the online world can offer to all levels, organisations need to take a layered approach to online security to best protect their customers’ information and their own security, reputation and continued consumer acceptance.”

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