ISSN 2330-717X

Nearly one third of internet users in the EU27 caught a computer virus


In connection with the Safer Internet Day1 on 8 February 2011, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, presents a selection of statistics concerning internet security. The Safer Internet Day is part of a global drive to promote a safer Internet for all users, in particular children and young people, and is organised by INSAFE, a European internet safety network co-funded by the European Commission.

The data presented in this News Release have been collected from the survey on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usage in households and by individuals2 in the EU27, mainly carried out in the second quarter of 2010. More data on internet security and related topics can be found in the dedicated section on Information Society on the Eurostat website3.

3% of internet users suffered financial loss

In the EU27 in 2010, almost one third of individuals (31%) who used the internet in the 12 months prior to the survey reported that they caught a virus or other computer infection4 resulting in loss of information or time during this period. The highest shares of internet users who caught a virus or other computer infection were found in Bulgaria (58%), Malta (50%), Slovakia (47%), Hungary (46%) and Italy (45%), and the lowest in Austria (14%), Ireland (15%), Finland (20%) and Germany (22%).

Among the individuals in the EU27 who used the internet in the last 12 months, 4% reported that they suffered from an abuse of personal information sent on the internet and/or other privacy violations4 in this period, with the highest shares in Bulgaria and Spain (both 7%), Italy and the Netherlands (both 6%). In the same period, 3% of internet users in the EU27 suffered financial loss due to phishing or pharming attacks or fraudulent payment card use4, with the highest shares recorded in Latvia (8%), the United Kingdom (7%), Malta and Austria (both 5%).

In 2010 in the EU27, a large majority of individuals (84%) who used the internet in the last 12 months stated that they used an IT security software or tool4 to protect their private computer and data. Among the Member States, more than 90% of internet users in the Netherlands (96%), Luxembourg, Malta and Finland (all 91%) used IT security software, while it was less than two-thirds in Latvia (62%), Romania (64%) and Estonia (65%).

Use of parental control software remains limited

In 2010, 14% of individuals in the EU27 who used the internet in the last 12 months and live in a household with children had a parental control or web filtering software4 installed. This share was highest in Luxembourg and Slovenia (both 25%), followed by France (24%), Denmark, Austria, the United Kingdom (all 21%) and Finland (20%).

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Of the individuals in the EU27 who used the internet in the last 12 months and live in a household with children, 5% reported that they experienced children accessing inappropriate websites or connecting with potentially dangerous persons4 while using a computer within the household. The highest shares were recorded in Italy (11%) and Latvia (9%). It should be noted that this indicator only represents the share of individuals who became aware of this problem and thus it may underestimate the real figure.

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