Just days after the federal government announced its StaySmartOnline initiative, a study by security software maker AVG has found that Australians fall victim to cyber crime at a higher rate than users in the US, Brazil and seven other major European countries.
A survey of 1000 Australians found that over 39 percent had been the victim of some form of cyber crime, compared to 32 percent in Italy, 28 percent in the US and 14 percent in Sweden and Spain.
The survey suggested that Australian women may be slightly more trusting than their male counterparts, while other studies have shown that it is men who fall harder than women for Internet fraud.
In AVG's survey, women suffered a higher incidence of negative financial impact due to fraudulent emails, credit card fraud and theft of bank details, while men were more likely to fall for phishing scams or not receive goods ordered online via eBay or other sites.
Across all Australian respondents, dodgy online auctions took top spot on the cyber crime hit list, with 16 percent of victims not receiving goods they had paid for online. Fraudulent e-mails, such as advanced fee-frauds, resulted in financial damages in 14 percent of cases, followed by phishing scams on 10 percent.
Not receiving goods ordered online (eight percent), credit card fraud (five percent) and unauthorised bank transfers (three percent) rounded out the top forms of cyber theft Aussies fell victim to.
Last month, the explosion in growth and professionalism of online scams saw both Australia and New Zealand make it into RSA's Anti-Fraud Command Centre monthly threat list of the world's top cyber crime targets.
The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce has previously stated that Australians are duped out of more than $700 million each year in online scams, while the Australian High-Tech Crime Centre views malware as the biggest cyber security threat the nation faces.
AVG's A/NZ marketing manager Lloyd Borrett said that while he was surprised that surveyed Australians topped countries like the US in the study, it may be because Australia has more active online users than most other countries.
"The study showed that 99.5 percent of home PCs are connected to the Internet, and that Australians score higher than most when it comes to leveraging the Internet for shopping, banking, paying bills and booking tickets," Borrett said.
"While we don't know whether Australians are actually targeted more heavily than other countries, these results highlight the importance of comprehensive security solutions to protect users from obvious threats like phishing and email scams, as well as good education to warn people of the danger."
The federal government's StaySmartOnline scheme offers a free subscription service, and lists advice ranging from basic home computing security best practice, to information on how to secure wireless networks and Voice over Internet Protocol.
Borrett welcomed the initiative, saying it will help reinforce existing messages about the need for Internet security.
To report or find out more about online scams visit SCAMwatch