Around two in three (63%) consumers could not correctly identify all the red flags of phishing websites, and many were relying on out-of-date safety information to protect them.
Phishing websites, often resembling those belonging to real businesses, are set up to trick victims into giving away personal and financial information, such as passwords or credit card details.
The data was collected from NordVPN’s National Privacy Test, a global survey aimed to evaluate cybersecurity and online privacy awareness.
The results showed that while most people in the UK have basic online safety skills, they lack awareness of practices and tools to protect them while browsing.
Out of 175 countries which have taken the test, the UK’s finished fifth, with its average score of 62/100 just behind Germany and the US (63/100) and the joint winners Singapore and Poland (64/100).
What Brits are not spotting about scam websites
In NordVPN’s survey, 72% of Brits correctly identified that a website’s digital certificate – or SSL – showing a random individual or company name would be a warning sign.
Additionally, 81% highlighted poor visuals and copy and 86% singled out a suspiciously named web address.
However, 22% admitted they are suspicious of a website that does not have a copyright symbol at the bottom of a page, despite this having no bearing on its safety.
Also, 85% believe a padlock icon in a web browser’s address bar suggests they are using a trusted site.
However, this icon, which is due to be retired by Google Chrome later this year, only indicates a secure encrypted connection and is now common on scam websites.
Marijus Briedis, NordVPN’s Chief Technology Officer commented: “Despite their respectable placing in the test, these results should give the UK definite cause for concern.
“As technology advances, cybercriminals have adapted their tactics, making it challenging for the average user to keep up. Also, there is a common misconception that cybersecurity is solely the responsibility of service providers
“Many Brits seem off the pace when it comes to their online safety, reliant on ‘old-school knowledge’ and at risk of falling headlong into scams like phishing websites.
“It’s important they realise that with the use of biometric identification growing, the value of a strong password is likely to decline over the next few years, and they must up their game in other areas.”