A survey commissioned by F-Secure in Finland, Germany, Malaysia, Poland, Sweden, the UK and the United States has uncovered some intriguing international variations in how Internet users perceive threats.
Asked how concerned they are about their online privacy and data security, Germans (77 percent) and Malaysians (73 percent) expressed the most concern, while the Swedes (42 percent) and Finns (36 percent) appeared to be the least concerned about their online life.
Nearly half of respondents said they have been hit by malware in the past year, but that their security software had notified them and prevented infection. The most malware hits were reported by Poland (70 percent), Finland (60 percent) and Malaysia (54 percent), with Germany (32 percent) reporting the lowest figures. Poland (14 percent) and Malaysia (11 percent) had the most respondents without any anti-virus protection on their computers that have been infected by malware.
“Germany seems to combine a high level of worry with a low level of exposure to the actual threats,” said Sean Sullivan, security adviser at F-Secure. “Caution is good when surfing the web, but being overly concerned may also prevent people from experiencing the full benefits of the web. There is also a learning curve, as people become exposed to threats, they also learn how to deal with new situations and become more confident and less concerned.”
The survey findings also indicate that many computer users around the world are still unsure about security issues. For example, many people across the countries surveyed — Sweden (38 percent), United States (34 percent), UK (33 percent), and Germany (32 percent) — did not know if their computers were infected.
There is also wide variation in how worried people are about specific types of malware attacks. Germans (65 percent) and Malaysians (59 percent) were the most concerned about downloading malware from a website, compared to 22 percent of Finnish respondents. Germans (62 percent) and the British (41 percent) took the risk of poisoned search results most seriously.
Despite living in a digital era, an average of seven percent of respondents did not know what malicious code or malware was, with the highest scores occurring in the UK (12 percent), United States (12 percent) and Malaysia (9 percent). A significant proportion of Americans (29 percent) and the British (28 percent) did not know what poisoned search results were. Only Swedes and Poles understood the term “rogueware.”