IT SEEMS THAT Brits have become substantially less concerned about internet security risks over the last six years.
Research published by UK communications regulator Ofcom yesterday reveals that UK adults' concerns about the internet have dropped steadily since 2005, falling from seven in 10 users to half by 2011, with confidence online at high levels, 84 per cent.
This decline in concern comes as people are spending increasing amounts of time on the internet, according to Ofcom's Adults Media Use and Attitudes report. It reports that the average user now says they are online for over 15 hours each week, an increase of five hours since 2005. Almost eight in 10 adults, 79 per cent now go online on any device in any location, up by 20 per cent compared to 2005.
Three in 10 internet users said they have had a virus on their home PC in the past 12 months, with a similar number receiving phishing emails. The good news is that almost nine out of 10 home internet users who access it through a PC, laptop or netbook said they have anti-virus software installed on their computers at home.
Unsurprisingly, over the time when the poll has been running, social networking has exploded in popularity and now three-fifths of adult internet users say they have a profile on a social networking web site. However, the run to Facebook and such has slowed dramatically, with a rise of five per cent since 2010 compared to increases of 10 per cent in 2010 and 22 per cent in 2009.
Somewhat more worryingly, the research revealed that, while internet usage and social networking are becoming commonplace, some users are still willing to take silly risks online. A quarter of social networkers in the UK say their personal information, such as their date of birth or hometown, can potentially be seen by people they do not know.
Additionally, about 16 per cent of social networking users say they share their contact details with anyone or friends of friends. Three in five allow only their friends to view their contact details, and a further 13 per cent say they don't have this information on their profiles.
Since 2005 there has been little change in people's willingness to give out their personal information online. Three in 10 internet users said they would be happy to enter their credit or debit card details on web sites, compared to 28 per cent in 2005.
However, adult internet users are increasingly choosing whether to enter such details based on formal signs like padlock icons and system messages, increasing from 43 per cent in 2005 to 56 per cent in 2011.
The research also found that while most users are aware of terms and conditions and privacy statements on web sites, one in four or 24 per cent say they never actually read them, with the same proportion saying they read them thoroughly. µ