Technology

One in four gives fake net names

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Image caption People are nearly as likely to be web criminals as to be victims of them

More than a quarter of people online have lied about their name and more than one in five has done something online they regret, says a new report.

The behavioural and psychological impacts of online life are outlined in a report from the security firm Norton.

The report suggests that two-thirds of web users have been hit by cybercrime, with the costs and time to resolve the crime varying widely around the world.

But a large amount of online dishonesty came from the respondents themselves.

Seventeen per cent of respondents to Norton's survey had lied online about their age or where they lived, while 9% lied about their financial or relationship status and 7% about their appearance.

The study, "Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact", reveals telling details not only about the proportion of web users struck by cybercrime, but the disparity among countries as to the costs to each cybercrime victim.

In the UK, 59% of respondents had been victimised; on average, the respondents' "most recent experience with cybercrime" required 25 days to resolve, at a cost to them of $153 (£99).

While the corresponding resolution times in Brazil and India were significantly higher at 43 and 44 days respectively, the costs were vastly different.

Brazil had the highest cost among the countries surveyed at $1408 (£907), while in India it was just $114 (£73).

Sweden had the quickest average resolution time, at just nine days and an average cost of $178.

Double standard

More telling perhaps were the attitudes of survey respondents with regard to the ethics of their own behaviour.

Many felt it was "legal" to download a music track, album, or film without paying (17%, 14% and 15% respectively), while 17% viewed plagiarism as an acceptable practice.

Nearly a third had e-mailed or posted pictures of someone else without permission, and a quarter had secretly viewed someone else's browsing history.

Orla Cox, a security operations manager for Symantec, told BBC News she was unsurprised by the survey's findings on respondents' honesty.

"A lot of people, while they want to get information about other people on the web, they themselves would like to remain somewhat anonymous, to hide some of their own information so as to be not too easily identifiable on the web," she said.

"I don't think it's always a bad thing but certainly people are trying to create a whole different identity for themselves for nefarious purposes."

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