UK Internet users are failing to wise up to online scams and viruses in part because of the prevalent use of incomprehensible geeky jargon, such as 'phishing' and 'Trojans', to describe the threat.
A Populus survey of over 1000 UK adults for the Internet Service Provider found that jargon terms such as 'phishing', 'rogue dialler', 'Trojan' and 'spyware' are a mystery to most Web users, despite being commonly used in connection to serious online security threats.
The study finds that 84% of home Internet users do not understand the term 'phishing', while 61% could not define 'Trojan'. One in ten people thought spyware was technology used to keep an eye on unfaithful partners.
More than a fifth of respondents do not know how to tackle online risks
Will Smith, AOL's safety and security expert, says: "Some of the terms being bandied around are more suitable for a computer programmers convention than for people who want to go online at home. If Internet users can't understand the language used to describe these risks, they are going to find it hard to protect themselves from being ripped off."
He says it is hardly surprising that people are becoming increasingly confused when it comes to Internet jargon, with new terms being introduced all the time. In the last few weeks, 'pharming' and 'keylogging' have entered the parlance, the latter hitting the headlines in reports about the attempted multi-million pound robbery from a large Japanese bank.
The research was commissioned in support of the launch of an AOL Safety & Security Centre, which features plain English definitions of jargon terms and advice for users on guarding against threats.