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Home PC users need to be wary of security vulnerabilities when they go online, according to software firm CA.

The 'CA Mid-Year Internet Threat Outlook Report' found that the exposure of home PC users is growing as the PC becomes the family communications and entertainment hub.

"Everyone using the internet should be aware of the nature and severity of online threats, especially gamers, social network users, seniors, tweens and their parents," said Sean O'Connell, security consultant, CA. "It's especially important to teach younger users about protecting personal information and handling cyber-bullies, because even though they may be more adept at using the internet than their parents, they tend to be far less diligent about practicing safe online computing."

The report has made several predictions for the year ahead. CA expects stealing online gaming accounts to become as profitable as stealing bank accounts. The report said the second most common malware seen this year is designed to steal gaming passwords.

Another threat to be wary of, according to the report, is 'spear-phishing', which the report predicts will grow significantly. CA said phishers are shifting from opportunism to 'spearing' specific individuals based on factors such as age or socio-economic status. Other threats to be aware of include malware, which the report predicts will increase by 132 per cent this year.

Cybercrime trends are changing, according to the study, which expects criminals to increase their targeting of low-profile software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and Macromedia Flash to exploit security holes, while also searching for weaknesses in social networks.

CA advises home users to protect themselves by using antivirus, anti-spyware and anti-spam software on their PCs. Users are also advised to practise common sense online and not open e-mails from unfamiliar senders.

© 2007 ENN

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