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Lack of Computer Security Hits 4 Million People in Germany

The internet is now part of everyday life for 80 percent of Germans. But a recent survey by Forsa, an opinion research institute, showed that 4 million Germans have fallen victim to computer crime.

A young man using a wireless connection to access the internet while sitting in a park

A large number of computer users in Germany does not think about security issues

They account for 7 percent of all computer users over 14 years, according to BITKOM, the Federal Association of the Information Industry, Telecommunications and New Media.

Around 1 percent of those questioned said they had suffered financial losses from online banking or online auctions. An additional 3 percent reported dubious Internet Dialer programs.

Another 2 percent reported damage due to viruses.

The survey also showed that many personal computers lack security programs. While 83 percent of respondents had a virus protection program on their computer, only 67 percent used a firewall.

Additionally, only 28 percent used an encryption program while 7 percent had no security mechanisms whatsoever.

Networking sites a problem

Meanwhile, web sites for career networking are proving a virtual bonanza for cybercriminals. As the users of corresponding social network platforms often reveal many personal details, the pages provide a rich source for spammers to gather data, says Katrin Alberts from the German Federal Agency for Security in Information Technology (BSI) in Berlin. The information included there is increasingly being used for personalized phishing attacks.

Career networking sites also offer criminals the chance to address employees in a inconspicuous way which, performed adeptly, can cause them to reveal valuable corporate information.

"For that reason we advise that social network users reveal as little personal data in their profiles as possible," Alberts says. Providing general contact data without responsibilities or functions is general sufficient for networking purposes.

Any attempts to establish contact via e-mail should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

"Cybercriminals try in this way to gain access to additional contacts and data," Alberts warns. They do so by faking e-mail sender addresses and by cleverly using personal information to gain the trust of potential victims.

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