UK internet users becoming more security conscious

17 May 2010

MotherlaptopMost UK internet users are becoming more knowledgeable about security issues and less willing to provide personal information online, according to new Ofcom research.

It reveals that 80 per cent of adults with a social networking profile are now more likely to only allow friends or family to see it, compared to 48 per cent in 2007.

However, around a quarter of internet users lack confidence in installing filtering software and security features.

The findings are part of Ofcom's Media Literacy reports, which reveal the UK's media consumption habits and attitudes.

Safety and security

They show that adults in Scotland are the least likely overall to worry about entering their personal data online.

Fifty per cent of Scots are happy to enter their home address details on the internet - more than double the number of those  in Wales and Northern Ireland (23 per cent).

Forty four per cent of adult internet users in Scotland are also happy to enter their credit card details online - compared with only 19 per cent of adults in Northern Ireland.

Parents in Northern Ireland are stricter about TV viewing compared with parents in the other nations - 87 per cent of parents in Northern Ireland have rules about their children's TV viewing (compared with 76 per cent in Wales). Parents in Northern Ireland are also more likely to have PIN or password controls on TV services at 36 per cent compared with 24 per cent of parents in Wales.

Ofcom supports Get Safe Online - a joint initiative between the Government, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, and public and private sector sponsors.

Get Safe Online raises awareness of internet security, and helps individuals and smaller businesses in the UK to use the internet confidently and safely.

Trust in sources of media

While around half of all adults consider television and radio content to be reliable and accurate, only three in ten internet users feel the same about web content.

Holidays, health, banking and shopping

Thirty per cent of UK adults now prefer to check their bank balance online compared with 22 per cent in 2005.

Over a third (36 per cent) of adults now prefer to book holidays online or by email - making it now as popular as booking in person.

Half of all internet users (47 per cent) said that they have used the internet to find out more about an illness compared with 41 per cent in 2005.

A similar number of UK adult internet users say they have made significant savings by comparing prices online or buying something online rather than in the shops.

Overall, eight in ten UK adult internet users have saved money by using the internet over the past 6 months.


But more people say that they trust news websites (58 per cent of internet users) than TV news output  (54 per cent of TV viewers), while trust in radio news trumps both (66 per cent of radio listeners).

Just over half of internet users who use search engines make some kind of evaluation of the results from these websites.

But one in five  trust that the website results from search engines will have accurate and unbiased information, rising to a quarter of those in C2DE socio-economic groups.

UK online

Around three quarters (73 per cent) of adults used the internet in 2009, up from  two thirds (63 per cent) in 2007.

Adults in Scotland are the biggest home users of the internet (10.6 hours per week), with adults in England logging on from home 8.3 hours per week , those in Wales 6.8 hours per week and adults in Northern Ireland using the internet at home the least at 6.5 hours per week.

Half of all internet users say that using the internet has increased their contact with friends or family who live further away, and around a quarter say it has increased their contact with friends who live nearby.

Popular surfing and socialising

According to Nielsen data, the most visited channels or brands in October 2009 were Google, MSN, Facebook, Yahoo, BBC, Ebay and Amazon, with little difference between the age groups visiting these sites.

Almost half of adult internet users in Scotland say they have set up a social networking profile (49 per cent) compared with 46 per cent in Wales, 44 per cent in England and 31 per cent in Northern Ireland.

Click here for the UK Adults' Media Literacy report

Adults' Media Literacy in the Nations

Children's Media Literacy in the Nations