Third of EU is crap at web security

Nearly a third of the population of the European Union’s 27 member states caught a computer virus in 2010 because many are too daft to surf the web safely.

The figures were released today by the EU, a day before Safer Internet Day, organised by the EC-funded INSAFE. They reveal that many in Europe have a long way to go before becoming properly tech-savvy, with plenty forgoing security or parental control software and others falling for phishing attempts.

31 percent of EU citizens reported that they had contracted a computer virus in 2010, despite the fact that 84 percent employ security software, such as antivirus and anti-adware programs.

Bulgaria had the worst record for virus infections, with 58 percent reporting malware on their computers. Malta was close behind at 50 percent, while Slovakia, Hungary and Italy were not far off, with 47 percent, 46 percent and 45 percent respectively.

The lowest infection rates were reported in Austria and Ireland, at 14 and 15 percent respectively. Finland and Germany were next, with 20 percent and 22 percent respectively. The UK was in the middle ground, with 31 percent.

Four percent of EU citizens reported more serious problems of online privacy violations and personal information abuse, with Bulgaria and Spain rating worst for this kind of problem, both at seven percent. Italy and the Netherlands were close behind at six percent each.

Three percent reported financial loss as a result of fraudulent credit card use and phishing attacks targeting online banking and similar websites. Latvia and the UK were the worst at falling for these scams, at eight percent and seven percent respectively.

Despite the fact that most people used security software in the EU, Latvians, Romanians and Estonians were found to be less savvy. Only 62 percent in Lativa, 64 percent in Romania and 65 percent in Estonia used security software to protect against malware. 

14 percent of families in the EU used parental control software, with Luxembourg and Slovenia leading the charge at 25 percent each. France was next at 24 percent, while Denmark, Austria and the UK all came in at 21 percent. Five percent of all parents were shocked their children were looking at inappropriate websites in 2010. Italian and Latvian kids are randier, with parents finding 11 percent and nine percent respectively checking out the dodgier side of the web.