A recent government study has shown that many people are put off from using the internet because they are wary of being targeted by hackers and identity thieves. 

The government’s Get Safe Online study has revealed that more people are afraid of becoming the victims of cyber crime than they are of being burgled or mugged. 

A recent BBC news investigation showed exactly why internet users should be wary of hackers. A PC they used as a ‘honey-pot’, or bait, to log malicious attacks was targeted on average every 15 minutes. Many of these were just nuisance attacks, but some were capable of rendering the PC unusable.

The survey revealed that 21% of internet users say they feel more vulnerable to cyber-crime than any other criminal activity. Only credit card fraud was perceived to be more dangerous, according to 27% of the 1,317 people surveyed by ICM.  

Junior minister Patrick McFadden believes the issue has important implications the future development of the internet. “Fear of online crime is an important issue that must not be ignored. Otherwise we will lose out on the enormous economic and social benefits that the internet provides,” he said.

In statistics which will concern internet retailers, 18% of internet users said they were too concerned about security risks to shop online, with 24% reluctant to use internet banking services.

The Get Safe Online campaign was launched by the government, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and is sponsored by major companies, including eBay, BT , HSBC and Microsoft.