Britons are leaving themselves at risk from online fraud by failing to use specialist protection software, new figures indicate.

A survey of web users conducted by internet service provider AOL reveals that many Britons are not doing enough to ensure that they are effectively protected online, though 86 per cent of respondents said that they were concerned about internet security.

Just 48 per cent of those quizzed said that they used specialist protective software, with a fifth (20 per cent) relying on their ISP to provide protection against internet fraud and online attacks and 16 per cent claiming they take no action to protect themselves on the web.

The AOL poll suggests that awareness of internet security has risen over the past year, but just 18 per cent of web users understand the term phishing, which relates to attacks by web criminals attempting to trick consumers into divulging sensitive information online.

AOL UK security expert, Will Smith, commented: “There’s no point knowing what the threats are if you then do nothing about them. People need to think of their online personal security the same way they do out on the high street.”

The survey of more than 1,000 people also suggests that 76 per cent of internet users understand the term virus, with lower numbers aware of the meaning of the terms Trojan and spyware.

Online fraud costs consumers as much as £12 million a year in the UK.

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