Net savvy Canadians not put off by online risks

Canadian Web users remain largely unfazed by tales of pirated software, hacker attackers, spyware, viruses and anything else online villains throw their way, according to a recent survey.

For instance, only 12 per cent of Canadians say they are worried about pirated software, a survey sponsored by the Canadian Alliance on Software Theft (CAAST) revealed.

It’s a finding that prompts the following warning from CAAST president Jacquie Famulak: “Remember, pirated software can be more of a trick than a treat.” But she adds that it’s encouraging that Canadians are experiencing fewer computer scares.

The survey was conducted by Ottawa-based Decima Research Inc. also found 17 per cent of the respondents were worried about software malfunction, 22 per cent feared hackers and 23 per cent were afraid of spyware.

Computer viruses cybersafety were a concern for 29 per cent, while 30 per cent and saw identity theft as a threat to.

The survey took a random telephone interview of 738 Canadians with computer and Internet access. Decima said results are accurate to within 3.1 per cent, with a 95 per cent confidence level.

Half of those polled said they do not use the personal computers to illegally download or share music, commercial software, photos or games.

In another survey earlier this year, CAAST had bemoaned the Canadian public’s attitude towards software piracy.

When asked to jot down high to medium threats to computer safety and security, 54 per cent named software piracy, 52 per cent listed conducting online business transactions, 49 per cent identified sharing or downloading music files and movies and 36 per cent pointed to sharing photos.

This confidence notwithstanding, one third of the respondents said they became nervous when entering personal data into their computers but end up doing so regardless of their apprehensions.

About 35 per cent said they don’t enter personal data into their computers.

Famulak said unauthorized software is prone to malfunction, while “pirated software increases [exposure] of computers to viruses, spyware, security breaches and possible legal consequences.”

CAAST offered the following tips to keep computers safe:

List every copy of software running in your computer

Install a firewall to prevent hackers and unauthorized accessConduct regular security updates and patches

To guard against purchasing illegal software it urged users to:

Beware of vendors offering “back-up” copies are a clear indication of illegal software

Check for software licenses and proper documentation and materials such as manuals and registration cards

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