More Britons fear internet crime than conventional crimes such as burglary, mugging and car theft, according to a report published today.
Get Safe Online, an awareness campaign, launched last year as a joint initiative between the government, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and other online organisations, conducted the study.
Over a fifth of internet users - 21 percent - said they felt most at risk from cyber crime than any other type of criminal activity. It is second only to bank card fraud - 27 percent - as the form of crime people surveyed felt most exposed to. Internet fraud has now overtaken burglary - 16 percent - as one of the top crimes users feel at risk of.
The report found that more than half of online users do their banking on the net. Thirty-two percent of people surveyed pay their utility bills online, 29 percent buy insurance and 23 percent purchase their groceries online.
However, the increased fear of cyber crime is putting some customers off carrying out transactions on the internet. Twenty-four per cent of respondents have been deterred from internet banking; nearly a fifth won't shop online and 17 percent have been put off using the web completely.
These results could have serious implications for UK businesses, plus the economy as a whole, which increasingly rely on customers using their services online. Major threats cited in the report include phishing, pharming, identity theft, virus attempts and hacking.
Speaking before the launch of the report, Patrick McFadden, parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office, said: "Fear of online crime is an important issue that must not be ignored. Otherwise, we will lose out on the enormous economic and social benefits that the internet provides. Provided they take sensible precautions to protect themselves, there is no reason why the overwhelming majority of people should not be able to enjoy the internet safely."
Gary Clark, VP of EMEA, SafeNet UK said the survey's statistics highlight the problem the UK is facing from internet crime.
"With security breaches costing UK organisations £10 billion per year, stronger action needs to be taken to protect customer confidential information, such as ensuring such data is encrypted," he said.
"Organisations implementing technology could improve consumer confidence with conducting financial transactions online. It would also help thwart many cyber crime incidents. It's the responsibility of enterprises and the government to make these policies a reality."
This week marks the start of Get Safe Online Week, which will involve a series of events, roadshows and training sessions nationwide. Experts will be available to offer advice and information on online protection.