Emerging Technology

A shocking number of Australian internet users aren’t concerned about malware, new ACMA research reveals

Patrick Stafford /

More Australians are connected to the internet than ever before, but nearly half of them aren’t concerned about malware or other software infections, new research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority has revealed.

The research reveals a common theme among Australian internet users and business owners. Most have no idea what they’re installing on their computers, and many can’t tell a spam email apart from a legitimate one.

The research from ACMA, which surveyed 1500 people, shows 10% of Australians who access the internet on computers or laptops don’t have any protective software in place. That number is equivalent to about 1.5 million.

Michael McKinnon, security advisor for AVG, told SmartCompany this morning simply installing software isn’t enough. There needs to be a “mix between the technical solutions and awareness”, he says.

“The technology often does work, so this kind of result in a survey shows you there is some complacency and that’s not surprising,” he says.

“I think it’s more reflective of the fact people have become used to being protected.”

The survey shows 35,000 infected IP addresses are being reported every day, and most of them are infected with software such as the Zeus Trojan, which is designed to capture specific details such as banking logins.

Such malware becomes a real concern as 88% of Australian internet users have access to online financial services.

Over half of mobile users said their devices were protected, but 24% said theirs wasn’t, and another 24% said they didn’t even know.

As for malware, up to a third of internet users said it was either “likely” or “highly likely” their computer was at risk from malicious software. The perception was spread evenly across most age groups.

ACMA deputy chairman and cyber security spokesman Richard Bean said in a statement the results show Australian users need to be more vigilant in protecting themselves from malware.

“Malware is a real threat. It allows others to steal your personal identity information, including your login details for internet services like online banking. Malware can be used to get access to almost any content on your devices, including your online browsing history.”

But McKinnon said the responsibility is a shared one – while technology is a good start, users also need to keep themselves informed.

“I think you need to be aware of the scams that are going on out there.

“But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s ever going to end. I think we just need to keep putting out awareness.”

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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