Twelve million Brits 'suffered virus attack in last 6 months

Despite 95 per cent of people claiming to use anti-virus or firewall software, almost 12 million people (24 per cent) have had their computer affected by a virus, hacker, malware or spyware in the past six months, according to a new report* from Of those who have suffered an attack, two in five (39 per cent) described the assault as causing a major disruption to their system. A further one in 10 (10 per cent) admit to suffering a deadly attack, rendering their computer unusable, and one in twenty (5 per cent) admit to having personal information stolen. This may be explained by the type of content being accessed by those experiencing virus problems, with almost one in 10 (9 per cent) admitting the attack came from an 'adult' website. (12 per cent of men admit to this compared to 4 per cent of women). A fifth (19 per cent) of people say the attack came from general surfing, and one in eight (12 per cent) from opening unknown files. These kinds of attacks are most common amongst men (27 per cent compared to 21 per cent of women) and the younger generations, with 38 per cent of those under 20 and 30 per cent of those in their twenties admitting to experiencing virus problems on their computers. James Parker, manager of broadband at, said: "The internet plays a massive part in modern life and as it's now available at home, at work, on your mobile or on the move through Wi-Fi hotspots and dongles. People need to be more aware of security threats than ever before. Most people use some of their personal details online - whether through internet banking or online shopping - and it's vital that people take appropriate steps to protect this information and themselves." top tips on how to stay secure
  • Keep spyware and anti-virus software up to date and firewalls turned on
  • Make sure you use any automatic spam filters/pop up blockers that your email provider may supply
  • Do not open emails or attachments from addresses you do not recognise
  • Be wary of downloading applications from sites such as facebook, they can be malware
  • Make sure you use strong password combinations to protect any online accounts
Methodology: Opinium Research carried out an online poll of 2,088 British adults from Friday 23rd to Monday 26th January 2009. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. Source:

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